Socio–Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Bola Tinubu to set up a presidential panel of enquiry to probe US$2.1 billion and N3.1 trillion public funds of oil revenues and budgeted as fuel subsidy payments allegedly unaccounted for between 2016 and 2019, as documented by the Auditor-General of the Federation.
SERAP urged him to name and shame anyone suspected to be responsible for the alleged widespread and systemic corruption in the use of oil revenues and the management of public funds budgeted as fuel subsidy, and to ensure their effective prosecution as well as the full recovery of any proceeds of crime.
SERAP also urged him to promptly, thoroughly, independently, transparently and effectively probe all fuel subsidy paid by successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999, and to use any recovered proceeds of crime as palliatives to address the impact of any subsidy removal on poor Nigerians.”
In the letter dated 3 June 2023 and signed by deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “There is a legitimate public interest in ensuring justice and accountability for these serious allegations. There will be no economic growth or sustainability without accountability for these human rights crimes.
“Your government should urgently act to follow due process of law in any policy to remove fuel subsidy, ensure that suspected perpetrators of these crimes against Nigerians are brought to justice and full recovery of any missing public funds.
“Arbitrarily removing fuel subsidy without addressing outstanding accountability issues in the alleged mismanagement of oil revenues and fuel subsidy payments would amount to punishing poverty and further impoverishing the poor while letting high-profile officials and non-state actors get away with their crimes.” The letter, read in part: “Any removal of fuel subsidy should not be used as a ploy to keep the poor in poverty while those who allegedly stole oil revenues and fuel subsidy payments keep their ill-gotten wealth.
“Allegations of corruption in oil revenues and fuel subsidy payments suggest that the poor have rarely benefited from the use and management of the revenues and payments.
“Poor and socio-economically vulnerable Nigerians should not be made to continue to pay the price for the stealing of the country’s oil wealth while state and non-state actors pocket public funds.
“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within three days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.
“The proposed panel should be headed by a retired justice of the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal, and its members should include people with proven professional record, and of the highest integrity that can act impartially, independently, and transparently.
“A comprehensive approach that prioritises accountability and full recovery of missing crude oil and public funds is required to address the problems of the implementation of fuel subsidy since 1999.”