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GRID COLLAPSE : SERAP sues Buhari over ‘missing N11tn electricity fund’

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari over his failure to probe allegations that over N11 trillion meant to provide regular electricity supply since 1999 may have been stolen, mismanaged or diverted into private pockets.

The country has repeatedly been plunged into darkness as the electricity grid has reportedly collapsed at least three times in five months, and 130 times in seven years.

According to a report by the World Bank, inconsistent power supply costs businesses in Nigeria about $29 billion yearly.

SERAP joined Abubakar Malami, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice as respondent in the suit.

The suit, which was filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Adelanke Aremo, read in part: “Nigeria has made legally binding commitments under the UN Convention against Corruption to ensure accountability in the management of public resources. These commitments ought to be fully upheld and respected.

“Corruption in the electricity sector has also continued to disproportionately affect the most disadvantaged and vulnerable sectors of the population who cannot readily afford expensive generators in order to have a reliable power supply.

“The failure of successive governments and high-ranking government officials to prevent corruption in the electricity sector and to bring suspected perpetrators to justice is the primary cause of the persistent crisis in the electricity sector, including the exploitation of electricity consumers, and collapse of the electricity grid.

“The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has adjudged the failure of the States to provide basic services such as electricity as violating the right to health.

“Citizens are frustrated at persistent allegations of corruption in the sector, and the impacts on their human rights. Prosecuting perpetrators would address the grave travesty that has for many years occurred in the power sector.

“Impunity for corruption in the electricity sector has for many years forced ordinary Nigerians to stay in darkness, but still made to pay crazy electricity bills.

“Successive governments have failed to increase power generation and provide Nigerians with regular and uninterrupted electricity supply, with many electricity contracts shrouded in secrecy, and trillions of Naira going down the drain.

“Impunity for corruption in the electricity sector will continue as long as high-ranking public officials go largely unpunished for their alleged crimes.

“The Buhari administration has legal obligations under Section 15(5) of the Nigerian Constitution 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.

“Alleged corruption and mismanagement in the electricity sector and the repeated collapse of the electricity grid have continued to deprive Nigerians of economic opportunities, subjecting them to cruel and degrading treatment.

“Section 16(2) further provides that, ‘the material resources of the nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good.’

“The failure by successive governments to tell Nigerians the truth about allegations of corruption in the power sector amounts to a failure to ensure that electricity services are progressively made available, on the basis of equality and non-discrimination.

“The details of the missing N11 trillion electricity funds are contained in a SERAP report titled: From Darkness to Darkness: How Nigerians are paying the Price for Corruption in the Electricity Sector.

Read also: SERAP tasks INEC to probe incidents of vote-buying, ballot box-snatching in Ekiti guber poll

“According to the report, the total estimated financial loss to Nigeria from corruption in the electricity sector starting from the return to democracy in 1999 to date is over N11 trillion. This represents public funds, private equity and social investment (or divestments) in the power sector.

“According to the report, the total estimated financial loss to Nigeria from corruption in the electricity sector starting from the return to democracy in 1999 to date is over N11 trillion. This represents public funds, private equity and social investment (or divestments) in the power sector.

“It is estimated that the loss may reach over N20 trillion in the next decade given the rate of Government investment and funding in the power sector amidst dwindling fortune and recurrent revenue shortfalls.”

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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