A civil society organisations Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to refer the allegations of mismanagement of $16 billion meant for power projects between 1999 and 2007 to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for further investigation.
They said if there is relevant and sufficient admissible evidence, anyone suspected to be involved should face prosecution.
SERAP also urged Buhari to refer to the EFCC and ICPC not just allegations regarding the $16 billion power projects but also the alleged squandering of over N11 trillion meant to provide regular electricity supply covering the governments of former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.”
Buhari had on Tuesday accused Obasanjo of spending $16bn on power projects during his tenure as the president without corresponding power supply to Nigerians.
But responding, Obasanjo said the president’s allegation was rooted in ignorance, claiming he was already cleared of any wrongdoing concerning the power sector by the National Assembly, and referring Buhari to his autobiography, My Watch, which he said reproduced various reports on the matter.
But SERAP in a statement by its Executive Director Adetokunbo Mumuni, said: “We welcome the focus by President Buhari on the massive allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the power sector and urge him to expand his searchlight beyond the Obasanjo government by ensuring accountability and full recovery of the over N11 trillion squandered by the three administrations. It is only by pursuing all the allegations and taking the evidence before the court that the truth will be revealed and justice best served. This is the only way to conclusively address the systemic corruption in the power sector and an entrenched culture of impunity of perpetrators.”
The organisation said, “Addressing impunity in the power sector should be total. This would help improve 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 any appearance of political considerations in the whole exercise.”
According to the organisation, “By immediately pursuing justice and recovery of any stolen assets in the power sector, the Buhari government would be acting in the public interest, and consistent with the spirit and letter of the constitution, particularly Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution dealing with Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, and providing that high-level public officials have a clear obligation to “eradicate all corrupt practices and abuse of power.”
On its part, the CNPP urged President Buhari not to stop at throwing a jibe at Obasanjo for spending $16bn on power projects but must go a step further by instituting a public probe of the power spending and other expenditure during the former president’s tenure.
While reacting to comment credited to President Buhari that despite the huge expenditure, there was no corresponding power supply to Nigerians, the CNPP Secretary General, Chief Willy Ezugwu, in a statement noted that one of the ways to give the anti-graft position of the President Buhari government a meaning is when he openly probes the Obasanjo administration.
“We expect President Buhari to institute a full scale public inquiry into the spending on power by former President Obasanjo’s administration. This will give teeth to his anti-graft war. His administration’s concentration on one particular administration, while leaving the ones before the former President Jonathan government has been the reason for our doubt of the sincerity in his war against corruption,’’ the group added.
“Although President Buhari did not mention any name, he was widely quoted as saying that a former Nigerian leader was bragging at a time that his administration spent $16bn on power sector, yet there was nothing to show for it. Therefore, if the president knows what we don’t know, it is time to prove to Nigerians that he is really fighting corruption.’’
Calling on President Buhari to immediately begin the probe and assure all Nigerians that he is not selective on his anti-graft war, the group said the president must equally call for the probe of members of his own cabinet fingered in corruption cases to make his war on corruption total.
Meanwhile, following controversy between President Buhari and Obasanjo on poor electricity supply in Nigeria, Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State has described the latest verbal exchanges over the $16 billion allegedly spent on power during the tenure of the former president as a disgrace to the nation.
Fayose who spoke in Ado Ekiti wednesday mocked the two leaders, saying that he was enjoying the public display of what he called ‘brick bat’ between them.
The governor said he has been vindicated that those who brought President Buhari would regret entrusting him with power.
He said: “I am enjoying these latest brickbats between Buhari and Obasanjo. They should keep exposing themselves for Nigerians to know what they have been hiding.
“Nigerians should remember I warned that those who brought Buhari will regret entrusting him with power.”