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Appoint independent counsel to probe alleged spending of $16bn on electricity by Obasanjo govt, SERAP tells CJN

25 November 2016, Abuja – Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) has sent a letter to Justice Water Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen Chief Justice of Nigeria requesting him to urgently use his good offices and position “to appoint an independent counsel to investigate allegations of corruption in the spending of $16 billion on electricity by the government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999 and 2007.”

SERAP said the request was brought “pursuant to Section 52 of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000, and the letter and spirit of the Act, and the object and purpose of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”

The letter dated 24 November 2016 and signed by SERAP senior staff counsel Timothy Adewale states that, “a Parliamentary Hearing by the House of Representatives in Abuja over the spending of $16 billion between 1999 and 2007 on the power project revealed through testimonies of witnesses appearing before the Committee that the $16 billion budgeted for the power project may have been stolen by some state officials and others, and cannot be accounted for.”

According to the organization, “Section 52 of the Corrupt Practices Act requires the Chief Justice of Nigeria to authorise an independent counsel to investigate any allegation of corruption against high level public officials—at the federal or state level–and to report his findings to the National Assembly or appropriate house of assembly.”

The letter reads in part: “We believe that the above highlighted findings by the Parliamentary Hearing have sufficiently demonstrated good cause invariably justifying your intervention in the matter. We therefore urge you to interpret this provision robustly and flexibly in the light of the unique role of the judiciary in the efforts to prevent and combat corruption and its destructive effects on the society.”

“We believe your urgent intervention will contribute to improving the integrity of government and public confidence and trust in their government. It would also serve as a vehicle to further the public’s perception of fairness and thoroughness, and to avert even the most subtle of influences that may appear in an investigation of highly-placed executive officials.”[sgmb id=”1″]

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