By PETERS


President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.)

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has filed a lawsuit against the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), “over his failure to publish the names of those indicted in the alleged misappropriation of over N6 trillion in the running of the Niger Delta Development Commission between 2000 and 2019, as documented in the recent Forensic Audit Report on NDDC.”

The suit with number FHC/ABJ/CS/1360/2021 filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja, has SERAP seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to publish the names of those indicted in the alleged misappropriation of over N6trn in the running of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) between 2000 and 2019.”

Justice Binta Nyako at Court too will attend to the suit fixed for hearing on November 29, 2021.

SERAP is also seeking “an order of mandamus to compel President Buhari to direct Mr Abubakar Malami SAN, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible for the missing N6trn, and to fully recover any stolen public funds.”

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 30: (AFP OUT) Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari speaks during a meeting with US President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House on April 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. The two leaders are scheduled to discuss a range of bilateral issues and hold a joint press conference later in the day. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

SERAP is arguing that “it is in the public interest to promptly publish the names of those indicted in the audit report, and to ensure that they face prosecution, as appropriate.”

According to SERAP, “The public interest in publishing the names of those indicted by the audit report outweighs any considerations to withhold the information, as there would be no prejudice against those whose names are published as long as the information is appropriately framed and truthful.”

The rights group is also arguing that “the Buhari administration has legal obligations under Section 15(5) of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power, and article 26 of the UN Convention against Corruption to ensure effective prosecution of allegations of corruption.”

It said, “The audit report raises prima facie evidence of grand corruption and its staggering effects in the Niger Delta. Nigerians have the right to know the names of those indicted and other details in the report, as guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Freedom of Information Act.”

The rights groups also said, “Publishing widely the report and the names of those indicted would remove the possibility of obstruction of justice, and provide insights relevant to the public debate on the ongoing efforts to combat grand corruption and the longstanding impunity of perpetrators in the country.”

SERAP is also seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to “widely publish and make available to Nigerians the Forensic Audit Report on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) submitted to him on September 2, 2021.”

Joined in the suit as Respondent is Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN.

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi, read in part, “Nigeria has made legally binding commitments under the UN Convention against Corruption to ensure transparent management of public resources, and unhindered access to public information. These commitments ought to be fully upheld and respected.”

“Directing and compelling President Buhari to publish the names of those indicted in the report would advance the victims’ right to restitution, compensation and guarantee of non-repetition, as well as improve public confidence in the fight against corruption.”

“Publishing the names of those indicted would be entirely consistent with Nigeria’s constitutional and international anti-corruption commitments.