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Fuel Scarcity: SERAP calls for refineries’ spending probe

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THE Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to “direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), and the appropriate anti-corruption agencies to probe the spending on the country’s four refineries.

  The organisation also asked the President to probe alleged corruption and mismanagement of public funds budgeted for the rehabilitation, operation, and maintenance of the refineries since 1999 or risk legal action.

  “Anyone suspected to be responsible should face prosecution as appropriate, if there is sufficient admissible evidence, and any mismanaged public funds should be fully recovered,” SERAP said in a statement signed by its Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, on March 5.

  It also urged President Buhari to “direct Mr Malami and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to bring to justice those suspected to be responsible for the importation and distribution of dirty fuel into the country, and to urgently identify and ensure access to justice and effective remedies to affected victims.”

  “There is a legitimate public interest in ensuring justice and accountability for alleged corruption and mismanagement in the oil sector and the resulting importation and distribution of dirty fuel and protracted fuel scarcity in the country.

  “The importation and distribution of dirty fuel, and the current fuel scarcity across the country demonstrate the need for effective accountability measures to weed out, expose, and punish allegations of corruption in the sector, and to ensure justice and effective remedies for victims.”

  The agency believes that allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the oil sector have contributed to the importation and distribution of bad fuel, causing environmental problems and violating the human rights of many users, including to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

  To curb the situation, SERAP says investigating and prosecuting allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the spending on the refineries would be entirely consistent with constitutional guarantees and international standards.

  “It may also galvanize public support for your government’s anti-corruption efforts,” it added.

  “Alleged corruption and mismanagement in the oil sector, the importation and distribution of dirty fuel, and protracted fuel scarcity amount to a fundamental breach of constitutional and international human rights obligations, depriving Nigerians of economic opportunities and subjecting them to cruel and degrading treatment.”

  The organisation, therefore, asked the Federal Government to instruct the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to jointly track and monitor the spending of public funds to rehabilitate, operate, and maintain the country’s refineries.

  Stressing that the situation has caused serious hardship for Nigerians, SERAP reminded the government of its responsibility to protect and secure the maximum welfare of citizens.

  “Under Section 16(1) of the Constitution, your government has a responsibility to ‘secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity.’ 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 agency asked the government to act on the recommended measures within seven days of the receipt and publication of the letter in which the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Malami was also copied.

  SERAP threatened that if it does not hear from them within the given time frame, it will “consider appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.”

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