Prosecuting oil thieves, SERAP accuses Buhari

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to set up a Presidential Commission of Inquiry to investigate illegal pipeline operations from 2001 to date and widely publish the names of anyone suspected of be involved.

SERAP has called on the President to direct the appropriate anti-corruption agencies to prosecute anyone suspected of being responsible for the plunder of the country’s oil wealth and to ensure full recovery of any proceeds of crime.

The civil society organization, which formulated the demands in an open letter dated October 15, 2022 and signed by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, gave the federal government a 14-day ultimatum to take action on its demands or make facing legal action.

SERAP has called on President Buhari to quickly authorize the investigation into reports of the destruction of an oil supply vessel by security agencies and to ensure that the alleged owners of the vessel are identified, named and brought to justice.

The organization also argued in the letter that poor and socio-economically vulnerable Nigerians have continued to pay the price for the theft of the country’s oil wealth, apparently by state and non-state actors.

He said the Federal Government has a legal obligation to ensure that Nigeria’s oil wealth is used only for the benefit of the Nigerian people, and that the wealth does not end up in private pockets, for the benefit of present and future generations. future.

The civil society organization insisted that despite the country’s vast oil wealth, successive governments have largely wasted the opportunity to use this wealth to improve the lives and well-being of Nigerians. and that this is a flagrant violation of the government’s anti-corruption and people policy. rights obligations.

SERAP also said it would be grateful if the recommended actions were taken within 14 days of receipt and/or publication of this letter, warning that if it does not hear from the government by then, he would take all appropriate legal steps to compel the government to comply with their request in the public interest.

The letter reads in part: “SERAP urges you to consider forwarding the reports to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court [ICC] investigate whether allegations of oil theft in the country constitute crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the ICC, and surrender all alleged perpetrators for trial by the ICC.

“SERAP is concerned that illegal pipelines have been operated for many years without notice, which involves a flagrant violation of constitutional and international obligations to ensure proper, effective and efficient management of the country’s natural wealth and resources. .

“It is in the public interest to quickly investigate the discovery of the illegal pipelines, to publish the names of those suspected of being involved and to ensure that they are brought to justice and that any proceeds of crime be fully recovered.

“Taking these steps would advance the right of Nigerians to restitution, compensation and guarantees of non-recurrence and improve public confidence in the fight against corruption and related crimes, particularly in the oil sector” , said SERAP.

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