SERAP Writes Buhari, Seeks Presidential Panel To Probe Corruption In NDDC

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari urging him to “use his leadership position to urgently set up a presidential investigative panel to probe grave corruption allegations in NDDC”

The organization also asked him to “immediately suspend Mr Godswill Akpabio, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and all those implicated in the allegations pending the outcome of any such investigation. Witnesses and whistle-blowers must be protected and the findings of the investigation should be made public. Where there is relevant admissible evidence, suspected perpetrators should be handed over to appropriate anti-corruption agencies for prosecution.”

In the letter dated 18 July, 2020 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “These are extremely serious allegations. Nigerians expect that those who run the NDDC should be free of corruption, and should enjoy no impunity. Nigerians who want to see development and prosperity in the Niger Delta will want you to take the lead to get to the bottom of these allegations and take appropriate and decisive action to address them.”

According to SERAP, “A special panel to probe allegations of corruption in the NDDC, and that is able to work closely with anti-corruption agencies would protect the integrity of the forensic audit, remove the possibility of obstruction of justice, and interference in the process by those suspected to be involved in alleged corruption in the NDDC.”

SERAP said:

“The investigation by the National Assembly has been controversial, and has reportedly turned into a ‘dirty fight’ between the NDDC and the National Assembly. Similarly, the hearings have reportedly indicted lawmakers of both the Senate and House of Representatives.”

SERAP also said:

“Any perception of politicisation and bias in the investigation of the corruption allegations in the NDDC would undermine public trust in the process, and ultimately, the public interest and good government, as well as justice for the victims of corruption in the Niger Delta.”

The letter, read in part:

“SERAP is concerned that allegations of systemic and widespread corruption in the NDDC are not only punishable offences but also directly undermine the human rights of Nigerians, especially the people of the Niger Delta.”

“SERAP notes that your government has expressed the commitment to ‘get to the root of the problem undermining the NDDC.’ However, the most effective way to ‘get to the root’ of the corruption problem in the agency, and to ensure and protect the integrity of a forensic audit is to establish a special panel to carry out credible, independent, impartial and effective investigations into the alleged corruption in the NDDC.”

“A decisive action is needed by you and your government to stop the corruption in the NDDC, ensure that anyone suspected to be responsible is brought to justice, and to fully recover stolen, mismanaged or misappropriated public funds.”

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