By Luminous Jannamike
ABUJA – A civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has petitioned the International Criminal Court (ICC) asking for an investigation of the allegations of systematic corruption in the electricity sector during the administrations of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.
According to the petition dated 16th August 2017, signed by the group’s Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, and addressed to Mrs. Fatou Bensouda of the Prosecution Department at the ICC, SERAP is demanding to know whether the allegations of widespread corruption in the power sector between 1999 and 2015 amounted to crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the Court.
The group maintained that since Nigeria is a state party to the Rome Statute which, 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,” there was need to ascertain if the allegations measured up to the standards of crimes against humanity, ICC should prevail on the Nigerian government to surrender all suspected perpetrators for trial by the Court.
It stressed that 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: “Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) is sending you this petition to request that you use your good offices and leadership position to investigate whether the allegations of widespread, systematic and large-scale corruption in the electricity sector since the return of democracy in 1999 and under the governments of former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan in Nigeria amount to crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, and to prevail on the Nigerian government to surrender all suspected perpetrators for trial by the ICC.
“Widespread, systemic and large-scale corruption in the electricity sector and the lack of transparency and accountability in the use of public funds to support the operations of Discos have resulted in regular blackouts and disproportionately affected the most disadvantaged and vulnerable sectors of the population who cannot readily afford expensive generators in order to have a reliable power supply.
“The situation is not likely to improve considering that the production of electricity is not proportionate with the rapidly growing population.
“SERAP also notes that allegations of corruption in the energy sector have resulted in the epileptic and interrupted supply of electricity and corresponding deprivation and denial of the citizens’ access to quality healthcare, adequate food, shelter, clothing, water, sanitation, medical care, schooling, and access to information.
“SERAP notes that lack of access to uninterrupted energy/electricity services has forced many citizens to use and collect frequently contaminated surface water for drinking and household uses; and denied the citizens the ability and services for boiling, purifying, disinfecting, and storing water, as well as for irrigation to increase the productivity of lands, thereby decreasing the availability of food supplies and undermining employment opportunities.
“SERAP believes that the staggering amounts of public funds alleged to have been stolen over the years in the electricity sector create just these consequences. Crimes against humanity are not only physical violence; allegations of corruption in the electricity sector old a comparable gravity, which the Prosecutor should examine and thoroughly investigate.
“The international community including the UN and EU are now considering establishing mechanisms to address the human rights problems caused by widespread and systemic large-scale corruption including in the electricity sector.
“SERAP believes that substantial grounds exist to warrant the intervention of the Prosecutor in this case. Pursuant to the Rome Statute, the Prosecutor has power to intervene in a situation under the jurisdiction of the Court if the Security Council or states parties refer a situation or if information is provided from other sources such as the information SERAP is providing in this case.”