THE Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Power, Works and Housing to “urgently provide information on specific names and details of contractors and companies that allegedly collected money for electricity projects but failed to execute any projects, starting from the return of democracy in 1999 to 2018.”
“By publishing the names of the contractors and their registration details, if any, Nigerians will be better able to hold them to account for allegedly absconding with public funds meant for electricity projects, thereby throwing the country into perpetual darkness and socio-economic stagnation as well as denying people their human rights,” SERAP stated in a Freedom of Information request dated January 4, 2019 sent to the Minister.
In the FOI request signed by its Senior Legal Adviser, Bamisope Adeyanju, the organization said publishing the names will make it hard for contractors and companies to get away with complicity in grand corruption.
But it warned that it would take all appropriate legal actions under the Freedom of Information Act to compel the Minister to comply with its request if the requested information is not provided within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of the letter.
It said that former Vice President and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar reportedly blew the whistle on Channels TV when he said, “Contractors were given some contracts for power projects and were paid hundred per cent upfront. The money went down the drain. Up till now, we are not holding the contractors responsible. People have collected money upfront one hundred per cent and have disappeared, and have not even done any work.”
The organisation said the revelation by Atiku is entirely consistent with its recent report titled: From Darkness to Darkness: How Nigerians are Paying the Price for Corruption in the Electricity Sector, which also revealed how over N11 trillion meant to provide regular electricity supply was allegedly squandered by politicians and contractors under successive governments.”
It urged Fashola to let Nigerians know that his office and indeed the current administration would not shield or allow ingrained wrongdoing by contractors and companies in the power sector to go unpunished.
“Unless the names of the contractors and companies are disclosed and widely published, alleged corrupt contractors and companies executing electricity projects will not be deterred and the victims of corruption that they committed will continue to be denied justice and effective remedies,” SERAP said.
The organisation said it was worried that to date no contractors or companies who allegedly collected money for electricity projects not executed or poorly executed have been investigated for corruption let alone prosecuted and fined.
It lamented that senior public officials who apparently served as intermediaries for these contractors and companies continue to escape justice.
“We are concerned that allegations of corruption involving many contractors and companies in the power sector have continued to impair, obstruct and undermine the ability of successive governments to provide Nigerians with access to regular and uninterrupted electricity supply.
“Contractors and companies that allegedly disappeared with public funds meant for electricity projects may also be liable for aiding and abetting the commission of acts of grand corruption,” it said
SERAP also urged Fashola to refer contractors and companies that allegedly collected hundred per cent payment upfront to appropriate anti-corruption agencies for further investigation, and where there is relevant admissible evidence, for them to face prosecution.
“Doing this will show your willingness to end a pattern of corruption in the power sector and to improve access of Nigerians to regular and uninterrupted electricity supply. It will also allow citizens to track the level of execution of electricity projects by contractors and companies and reduce impunity for corrupt acts in the sector.”