The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has petitioned the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), urging them to probe Senators Godswill Akpabio and Isa Misau over alleged diversion of constituency projects.
Professor Itse Sagay, Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption was also copied by the petitioner.
In the petition dated August 2, and signed by SERAP deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the body held that: “If the ICPC and EFCC consider the recovered hospital equipment and six tractors allegedly diverted for the personal use of the senators as relevant and sufficient admissible evidence, we urge you to promptly begin prosecution of the former senators.”
The ICPC had last week stated that it recovered from the premises and farmland allegedly belonging to the senators, equipment meant for constituency projects in some local government areas of Akwa Ibom and Bauchi states.
The group stated that inviting those suspected to be involved in the allegations for interrogation and further questioning, and for them to promptly face prosecution as appropriate, would show that no one is above the law.
It added that doing that would be entirely consistent with the exercise of the two organizations mandates to combat corruption.
According to SERAP, the two anti-graft agencies must perform their duties based on the constitution.
“Section 15(5) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) to the effect that ‘the state shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.’ Similarly, the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a party requires the authorities to ensure effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions and penalties for corruption.
“The allegations of diversion of constituency projects by public officers have weakened public confidence in the effectiveness of the mechanism as currently implemented to deliver essential public services to those most in need. Unresolved allegations of corruption in constituency projects would significantly contribute to impunity for grand corruption in Nigeria and pose a serious threat to probity in public life, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
“Allegations of corruption in constituency projects meant to be implemented for the common good and not the personal gains of lawmakers, would ultimately undermine the principles of representative and accountable government that act in the public interest, and equality and fairness.
“Corruption in the health sector or provision of support to farmers unfairly punishes the poor, and depresses living standards and opportunities for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged population.
“Inviting those suspected to be involved for interrogation and further questioning, and prosecuting them if the recoveries by the ICPC indicate relevant and sufficient, admissible evidence, would show your agencies’ willingness to exert your authorities and act as a deterrent against breaches of Nigeria’s anti-corruption legislation and international standards.”
SERAP urged both the ICPC and EFCC to jointly act to continue to ensure a greater level of transparency and accountability in the implementation of constituency projects and to name and shame those suspected to be involved, if Nigeria is not to continue to witness damaging allegations of diversion and other forms of corruption in the implementation of constituency projects.
“These cases illustrate the growing allegations of massive corruption in constituency projects and the importance of not only monitoring the projects but thoroughly and effectively investigating reported cases of corruption and promptly bringing suspected perpetrators to justice,” the petitioner held.