…Compel Fashola to name contractors who disappeared with project funds, SERAP tells court
By Dapo Akinrefon
LAGOS—THE Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has dragged the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola to court over “failure to disclose specific names and details of contractors and companies that allegedly collected money for electricity projects but failed to execute any between 1999 and 2018.”
Recall that the Presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Channels TV, said: “We collected money from local, state and federal governments and others. Contractors were given some contracts and were paid hundred percent upfront. Up till now, we are not holding the contractors responsible. People have collected money upfront one hundred percent and have disappeared; and have not even done any work.”
In the suit number FHC/L/CS/105/19 filed last week at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, SERAP is seeking “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus directing and/or compelling Mr. Fashola to provide specific details on the names and whereabouts of the contractors who collected public funds meant for electricity projects but disappeared with the money without executing any projects.”
The suit followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information request dated 4 January, 2019 giving Fashola 14 days to publish “the names of all contractors and companies that have been engaged in the power sector since 1999 till date, details of specific projects and the amounts that have been paid to the contractors and companies, details on the level of implementation of electricity projects and their specific locations across the country.”
I won’t join issues to SERAP — Fashola’s aide
When contacted, Special Adviser on Media to the Minister, Mr. Hakeem Bello said: “I am not reacting to SERAP but if they have gone to court, definitely, the ministry will respond.”
The organization said: “Publishing the names will make it hard for contractors and companies to get away with complicity in grand corruption. The citizens have the right to see that the Freedom of Information Act is enforced where there is an infraction of the right to information or a threat of its being violated, in matters of public interests.”
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its counsel, Adelanke Aremo read in part: “By compelling Mr. Fashola to name the contractors and their registration details, if any, Nigerians will be better able to hold them to account for allegedly absconding with public funds meant for electricity projects, thereby throwing the country into perpetual darkness and socio-economic stagnation as well as denying people their human rights.
“Granting the order as prayed would ensure that allegations of complicity in grand corruption by contractors and companies in the power sector do not go unpunished. Unless the names of the contractors and companies are disclosed and widely published, alleged corrupt contractors and companies executing electricity projects will not be deterred and the victims of corruption that they committed will continue to be denied justice and effective remedies.”
“To date no contractors or companies who allegedly collected money for electricity projects not executed or poorly executed have been investigated for corruption let alone prosecuted and fined. Senior public officials who apparently served as intermediaries for these contractors and companies continue to escape justice.”
“The allegations of corruption involving many contractors and companies in the power sector have continued to impair, obstruct and undermine the ability of successive governments to provide Nigerians with access to regular and uninterrupted electricity supply. Contractors and companies that allegedly disappeared with public funds meant for electricity projects may also be liable for aiding and abetting the commission of acts of grand corruption.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.