17 August 2017

Nigeria: Serap Asks ICC to Investigate Alleged Missing N11 Trillion Electricity Fund

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, to use her "good offices and leadership position to investigate the allegations of widespread, systematic and large-scale corruption in the power sector since the return of democracy in 1999.

The group alleged that governments of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar'Adua and Goodluck Jonathan committed crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the ICC, and to prevail on the Nigerian government to surrender all suspected perpetrators for trial by the ICC.

SERAP noted that Nigeria is a state party to the Rome Statute and deposited its instrument of ratification on 27 September 2001.

In the petition issued on August 16, 2017, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, the organisation said: "Allegations of corruption in the power sector in Nigeria have had catastrophic effects on the lives of millions of Nigerians, akin to crimes against humanity as contemplated under the Rome Statue and within the jurisdiction of the ICC."

According to SERAP, "The Rome Statute in article 7 defines crime against humanity to include 'inhumane acts causing great suffering or injury,' committed in a widespread or systematic manner against a civilian population. The common denominator of crimes against humanity is that they are grave affronts to human security and dignity.

"Therefore, the staggering amounts of public funds alleged to have been stolen over the years in the electricity sector created just these consequences. Crimes against humanity are not only physical violence; allegations of corruption in the electricity sector hold a comparable gravity, which the prosecutor should examine and thoroughly investigate."

The petition reads in part: "The elements that need to be established to prove a 'crime against humanity under article 7(1)(k) of the Rome Statute are that the perpetrator inflicted great suffering or serious injury by means of an inhumane act; that the perpetrator was aware of the circumstances and that the act was committed within a widespread or systematic attack on a civilian population which the perpetrator knew of that link.

"The consequences of allegations of corruption in the electricity sector are similar to those of the offences in article 7(1). Corrupt officials and contractors in the electricity sector know well that their conduct is criminal and injurious, and the denial of human dignity coupled with a radical breach of solemn trust aggravates their alleged crime.

"SERAP therefore considers these allegations of widespread and systematic corruption in the power sector as amounting to crimes against humanity and clear violations of the provisions of the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court. SERAP believes that these allegations have given rise to individual criminal responsibility of those suspected of perpetrating corruption in the sector as entrenched in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court."

SERAP therefore asked Bensouda to urgently commence an investigation proprio motu on the allegations of widespread and systematic corruption in the electricity sector since the return of democracy in 1999, with a view to determining whether these amount to crimes against humanity within the court's jurisdiction. "In this respect, we also urge you to invite representatives of the Nigerian government to provide written or oral testimony at the seat of the court," it stated.

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