Nigerian Chief Justice urged to appoint independent counsel to probe abandoned projects
21 May 2012. Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent a request to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, urging him to “urgently use your good offices and position to appoint an independent counsel to investigate allegations of corruption in the abandoned road and other projects by the Federal Government.”
According to the organization, the request is made “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.”
In the letter dated 21 May 2012, and signed by SERAP Executive Director Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organization said that, “Between 2010 and 2012, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved about 100 projects apparently to improve the development of the country and enhance the living conditions of its citizens. However, virtually all the projects have either been abandoned or not completed on schedule, despite the huge sums of money allocated for the projects.”
“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,” the organization also said.
Section 52 of the ICPC 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 organization said: “We believe that the highlighted projects 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 grand corruption and its destructive effects on the society.”
The organization also urged Justice Musdapher “to be guided not by technicalities of ICPC Act but by the overall public interest involved in the potential success execution of the projects and the spirit and letter of the constitution. In particular, Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution imposing obligations on high-level public officials to eradicate all corrupt practices and abuse of power, and prohibiting the exploitation of Nigeria ’s human and natural resources for any reasons other than for the good of the community.”
“In exercising your statutory and constitutional responsibilities, we urge you to work very closely with both the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC),” the organization also said.
According to the organization, “Contract for the Phase 1 Bwari-Kau Road on the outskirts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) was approved by the FEC in December 2010 for N3, 886,099,514.93. Although the completion date for the project is December 2012, work has not yet started on the project several months after, and despite release of money to contractors. The road thus remains a death-trap, contributing to unnecessary loss of innocent lives and consequently violation of the constitutional and international human right of the citizens to life.”
The organization also said that, “Contract for three Solid Waste Transfer Stations at Mpape, Apo and Kubwa in the FCT was awarded by the FEC in January 2011 for N2, 957, 572, 096.35 but no work has started yet on the project. In fact, many of the residents in the areas said they have never heard of such a project.”
The organization also said that, “Contract for the supply of 60, 000 units of 240 litres Plastic British Waste Bins was approved by the FEC in September 2010 for N927,600,000. The bins were meant for the streets of Abuja. But about two years after, the bins are nowhere to be found.”
“Contract for the provision of engineering infrastructure to Maitama Extension District, Abuja was approved by FEC in April 2011 for N23, 650 billion, and due to be completed in May 2014. To date, no real work has commenced on the project Also, contract for the National Library and Cultural Centre was approved by FEC in March 2010 for N17,005 billion. No tangible work is noticeable on site, and the project is very unlikely to be completed on time, if at all. Similarly, contract for the Nigeria Cultural Centre and Millennium Tower Projects was approved by the FEC for N18.998billion but has no specified time for its completion,” the organization also said.
SERAP Executive Director