Why AGF, EFCC, ICPC must fast-track prosecution of power sector corruption cases – SERAP

Abubakar Malami, Justice Minister

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami SAN; the Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, and Chairman Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Professor Bolaji Owasanoye to revisit and fast-track prosecution of all cases of corruption in the electricity sector and ensure effective recovery of stolen public funds.

This was stated today at the Policy Dialogue on Promoting Transparency and Accountability in the Judiciary, Education and Electricity sectors, organized by SERAP, in collaboration with the MacArthur Foundation, USA.

The cases listed to be revisited include “the case of the Ramsome Owan-led Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the investigation of Mr. Goodknows Ighali on the alleged diversion of funds of workers of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria.”

SERAP is also urging “the ICPC to make public the status of the investigation and recommendations for prosecution (if any) on the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) Recruitment Scandal/Jumbo Pay Scandal given the fact that the Nigerian Government and public have 40% stakes in the AEDC. The EFCC should revisit the Elemelu report on the Rural Electrification scandal and ensure that all suspected perpetrators are brought to justice.”

According to SERAP, “The EFCC and ICPC should scrutinize, prioritize and conclude pending investigations of all power sector-related cases and make report public (where applicable), as well as bring to justice suspected perpetrators. The EFCC and ICPC should probe Metering and billing fraud and corruption. Most consumers are unhappy with their billing methodology and feel short-changed by the operators.”

In the 15-Point Programme for Promoting Transparency and Accountability in the Judiciary, Education and Electricity sectors in Nigeria launched at the Policy Dialogue, SERAP is also asking Mr Malami to: “request the report of the House of Representative Committee that probed government spending in the power sector from 2000 to 2007, make the report public and ensure appropriate legal action against anyone suspected to be involved in corruption.”

The Policy Dialogue, which discussed how to effectively implement SERAP’s core reports on corruption in the judiciary, education and electricity sectors was attended by the civil society, the media, ministries, departments and agencies, among others.

Among those in attendance were: Mr Ahmed Rufai Zakari, Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari; Nikki Umeh, Special Adviser to Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo; and Fasina Olakunle, representative of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

Others included Dr Felix.O Okpe representing Deputy Senate President; Ashley Emenike, representing the Senate Committee on Corruption; Biodun Aikomo, Special Adviser to the Attorney General of the Federation; and Mr Aaron Artimas Senior Special Adviser to the Minister of Power.

All the participants at the Policy Dialogue agreed to work to ensure the effective implementation of the 15-Point Programme.

SERAP’s 15-Point Programme read, in part: “For proper metering, electricity distribution companies (DISCOS) must take a proper and comprehensive collation of all power consumers in their jurisdictions before issuing new meters under direct purchases or Credited Advanced Payment for Metering Implementation (CAPMI) systems.

“DISCOS must urgently undertake initiatives to re-number and re-classify all electricity consumers in Nigeria for the purpose of issuing new meters. The NERC must shoulder the responsibility on this aspect.

“The Attorney General should take measures to obtain, widely publish and act on the report of the Elumelu House Probe Committee which had accused 21 persons and 36 companies of subversion of government policy on due process which gave rise to extension of contract beyond its original size, inflation of costs, duplication of contract awards, other kinds of corruption, and general lack of performance.

“The Nigerian government and the NERC should adopt and publish citizens’ charters in the electricity sector, spelling out the rights and responsibilities of consumers and conferring on them the right to receive good and quality service from power service providers; for independent monitoring and public participation in policy formulation and decision-making.

“The Nigerian Federal Government, the National Assembly, State Governments, and the judiciary must work with anti-corruption institutions like the EFCC and the ICPC, CSOs and donor agencies to improve and enhance the capacity of institutions and actors within the justice to promote justice, transparency and good governance.

“The necessary actions required here involve amending sections 26(2) and 60(3) of the ICPC Act to confer jurisdiction on Magistrate Courts, High Courts of States and the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, and the Federal High to determine corruption cases; amending the ICPC Act and EFCC Act to criminalize illicit wealth or unjust enrichment in line with contemporary international standards like the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.

“Money appropriated in budgets for anti-corruption agencies and initiatives should be released as and when due; the Attorney-General should work closely with the ICPC to begin the commencement of prosecution of all ex-governors whose cases have been investigated to completion; the Attorney-General should, in collaboration with the civil society, establish a system for monitoring conduct of high profile corruption cases; the inauguration of a committee to monitor corruption cases in courts.”