Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to major presidential candidates for Nigeria’s February 16 election to commit themselves to the scrapping of immunity and security votes of the governors and president.
SERAP urged them to “publicly commit to revolutionary and innovative anti-corruption reforms in five key areas, such as security votes, power sector corruption, judicial corruption and removal of immunity for presidents, vice-presidents, state governors and deputy state governors.”
President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives’ Party and Atiku Abubakar of the People Democratic Party, who were absent in the presidential debate last night, are among the candidates that SERAP said it has sent letters. Others include: the candidates of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, Oby Ezekwesili; Alliance for New Nigeria, Fela Durotoye; Young Progressives Party candidate, Kingsley Moghalu; KOWA Party, Sina Fagbenro-Byron; African Democratic Congress, Obadaiah Mailafia; and African Action Congress, Omoyele Sowore.
In a statement today signed by SERAP senior legal adviser Bamisope Adeyanju, the organisation said: “Consistent with their right to participate in their own government, Nigerian voters deserve a substantive debate during the campaign about issues that affect them, particularly with respect to combating corruption. Now is the time to make commitment for specific reforms that will strengthen Nigeria’s anti-corruption record and standing in global ranking. Set forth below are 5 main anti-corruption priorities that candidates should address. Please let us know which positions you will support.”
The letters dated 19 January, 2019 read in part: “Candidates should commit to scrapping security votes spending by presidents and state governors by repealing the constitution to include specific prohibition of security votes. They should also commit to a comprehensive audit of spending on security votes by presidents and governors since the return of democracy in 1999 and directing their Attorney General and Minister of Justice to take legal action in the public interest to hold governments to account on spending on security votes.”
“Candidates should commit to repealing the Electric Power Sector Reform Act of 2005 to address regulatory lapses which have continued to lead to systemic corruption and impunity of perpetrators, forcing ordinary Nigerians to pay the price for corruption in the electricity sector -staying in darkness, but still made to pay crazy electricity bills.”
“Candidates should commit to reopening all reports of corruption in the electricity sector and ensuring effective prosecution of corruption allegations, including corruption charges against Dr. Ransom Owan-led board of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission; allegations of looting of the benefits of families of the deceased employees of Power Holding Company of Nigeria; and the budgeted N16 billion between 2003 and 2007, which went down the drains as it failed to generate the needed amount of electricity.”
“Candidates should commit to establishing independent counsel and/or special anticorruption courts in the six-geopolitical zones of the country for the effective and speedy prosecution of all former state governors indicted for corruption. They should also commit, within the first 365 days in office, to begin the constitutional reform process of removing the immunity clause in section 308 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) to promote effective leadership and improve institutions of governance.”
“Candidates should commit to working with the judiciary to improve the independence of the National Judicial Council, including by reviewing requirements for its leadership to allow retired judges of proven integrity to lead the council. They should also commit to working with and encouraging the Chief Justice of Nigeria and NJC to ensure that the Chief Justice of Nigeria and all other judges make periodic asset declarations and public disclosures of such declarations.”
“Candidates should commit, within the first 365 days in office, to begin the constitutional reform process of inserting specific requirements in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) to make asset declaration details by presidents and state governors public, including by widely publishing the details online and on other accessible platforms.”
“Candidates should also commit to directing their Attorney General and Minister of Justice to refer cases of apparent disparity between the asset declarations of presidents and state governors before assuming offices and their alleged illicit wealth and enrichment after leaving to the Code of Code Bureau for joint investigation and prosecution with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).”
“Prior to the elections, SERAP will issue a short report on the anti-corruption commitments that candidates and political parties have made. SERAP will then issue an anticorruption assessment report in March 2019, to set clear anti-corruption agenda for the next president and administration, which would assume office May 29, 2019.”
“We hope that candidates will adopt these commitments as part of their own political platform and ensure that the important recommendations are diligently implemented if they are elected.”
“If you or your political party would like to commit to some or all of the recommendations stated below, please let us know by February 1, 2019 so that we can include you in our upcoming report. Please feel free to contact at: [email protected]”