The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to probe the administrations of former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar‘Adua and Goodluck Jonathan for allegedly wasting electricity funds.
SERAP had accused the trio of squandering a total sum of N11 trillion meant for provision of electricity to Nigerians during their respective regimes – between 1999 and 2015.
In a statement issued on Wednesday by Timothy Adewale, SERAP deputy director, the organisation asked Fatou Bensouda, ICC prosecutor, to investigate whether the allegations of “widespread, systematic and large-scale” corruption amount to crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the court.
It also asked her to prevail on the Nigerian government to surrender all suspected perpetrators for trial by the ICC.
It said the 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 Statute and within the jurisdiction of ICC”.
“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,” the statement read.
“SERAP considers these allegations of widespread and systematic corruption in the electricity sector as amounting to crimes against humanity and therefore clear violations of the provisions of the Rome statute of International Criminal Court.”
SERAP added that the allegations have given rise to the individual criminal responsibility of corrupt persons in the power sector as entrenched in the Rome statute of the ICC.
“SERAP considers the apparent failure of successive governments and high-ranking government officials to prevent widespread and systematic corruption in the electricity sector as amounting to complicity under the Rome Statute,” it further said.
“SERA, therefore, believes that the widespread and systemic nature of large scale corruption in the electricity sector fits the legal requirements of a crime against humanity.”
While stating that alleged corruption in the power sector has denied citizens access to basic social amenities, the organisation asked the court 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, so that the prosecutor is able to conclude since available information whether there is a reasonable basis for an investigation, and to submit a request to the pre-trial chamber for authorization of an investigation,” SERAP said.