The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has lauded a Federal High Court order to Federal Government to publish the names of and other details of contractors who allegedly collected money and disappeared without executing awarded electricity projects since the return to democracy in 1999.
In a press release issued by CACOL’s Coordinator for Media and Publications, Adegboyega Otunuga on behalf of the Executive Chairman of CACOL, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he stated, “We laud and enthuse on the Justice Chuka Obiozor of the Lagos Federal High Court order sometime last week where he ordered ‘the full disclosure and publication of the names of companies and the whereabouts of the contractors paid by successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999 to carry out electricity projects across the country but disappeared with the money without executing any projects.’ The originating suit for this order was filed against the Ministry of Power by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP.
“As an Anti-Corruption coalition in Nigeria, CACOL has always expressed its opposition to privatization of virtually all our collective holdings, including the power sector as examples from other climes, have clearly shown that wholesale or ditching of majority shares of these sensitive sectors of the economy has never solved any of the initial problems bedevilling that sector, including the power sector. Against such sensibilities and in complete disregard of the constitutional provisions that stipulates that the commanding height of the national economy should rest with majority Nigerians (and who is better placed to enforce that than the government), these patrimonies were flagrantly sold to cronies, surrogates and fronts of those in government with little or no regard to openness and accountability at giveaway prices. This is why today, the power sector, in spite of having gulped over USD25bn (Twenty-Five Billion American Dollars) has not demonstrated any appreciable and commensurate increases in generation, distribution or metering of consumers for power.
“It is gratifying that this order instructs the Federal Government and other relevant agencies to disclose and publish on a dedicated website and widely circulate information on specific names and details about contractors and companies paid by each government; the total amounts paid by each government and the objects of the payment, the level of implementation of electricity projects as well as details and specific locations of projects executed across the country by each government since 1999. The court was reported to have also ordered the government to urgently disclose if there is an ongoing investigation or prosecution of contractors and companies paid by successive governments since 1999 to carry out electricity projects but failed to execute the projects for which public funds were collected.’
The CACOL boss added, “for those of us in the anti-Corruption, Accountability and Transparency crusade in this country since the advent of this civil rule in 1999, the main icing on the cake of the order was the part the judge ruled that ‘the failure by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to provide SERAP with the details of payments made to contractors by each government since 1999 is a breach of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.’ This is a watershed ruling that gives a serious bite to the FOI Act and turns it into a potent weapon against corruption and impunity by those in power in Nigeria. It has the potentials of ensuring that governments, at all levels in Nigeria, are made to sit up and respond to the yearnings and genuine aspirations of majority Nigerians who are daily made to bear the brunt of maladministration, inordinate official heist and abandon recklessness by those in positions of authority. We commend the ruling and the judge for this bold and epochal ruling which we expect those of us in the civil society section and ordinary Nigerians to make the leaders much more accountable and responsive.”