By Adedapo Adesanya
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari for his refusal to probe allegations that over N11 trillion earmarked for the provision of regular electricity supply since 1999 which it believes “may have been stolen, mismanaged or diverted into private pockets.”
According to the body in a statement, Nigerian cities have repeatedly been plunged into darkness as the electricity grid has reportedly collapsed at least three times in 5 months, and 130 times in 7 years.
According to the World Bank, epileptic power supply costs businesses in Nigeria about $29 billion yearly.
In the suit number FHC/L/CS/1119/2022 filed last week at the Federal High Court, Lagos, SERAP is seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to investigate how over N11 trillion meant to provide regular electricity supply has been allegedly squandered by governments since 1999.”
SERAP is also seeking “an order of mandamus to compel President Buhari to ensure the prosecution of anyone suspected to be responsible for the missing electricity fund, as appropriate, and to ensure the tracing and full recovery of any missing public funds.”
It is arguing that, “It is in the public interest to ensure justice and accountability for alleged corruption and mismanagement in the electricity sector, which has resulted in the failure of governments to solve Nigeria’s perennial power problem,” noting that “The staggering amounts of public funds alleged to have been stolen over the years in the sector have had catastrophic effects on the lives of millions of Nigerians, akin to crimes against humanity against the Nigerian people.”
The group noted that, “The failure to trace, find and recover the missing electricity fund is antithetical to the public interest, the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], and the country’s international obligations,” arguing that, “Nigerians have for far too long been denied justice and the opportunity to get to the bottom of why they continue to pay the price for corruption in the electricity sector–staying in darkness, but still made to pay crazy electricity bills.”
SERAP is also arguing that, “Investigating the allegations of missing N11 trillion electricity funds, prosecuting suspected perpetrators and recovering any missing public funds would end a culture of impunity. It would also address persistent collapse of the electricity grid, and improve access to and affordability of electricity in the country.”
It stated that, “Corruption in the electricity sector and the lack of transparency and accountability in the use of public funds to support the operations of DISCOS have resulted in regular blackouts, electricity grid collapse, and unlawful hike in electricity tariffs.”
SERAP is also seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to refer to the International Criminal Court all unimplemented reports of corruption in the electricity sector gathering dust on the shelves, and to arrest and surrender those named in the reports to the court for prosecution.”
Joined in the suit as Respondent is Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, while the suit was filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Adelanke Aremo.
Aminu Adamu Lands in Prison for Insulting Aisha Buhari
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A student of the Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State, Mr Aminu Adamu, has been remanded in prison for allegedly ‘insulting’ the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, Mrs Aisha Buhari.
A few days ago, news filtered in that Mr Adamu was kidnapped by some security officials to Aso Rock, Abuja, over his post on Twitter that the President’s wife was feeding fat on the taxes paid by the poor masses.
This did not go down well with the First Lady, and the student, who is reportedly due to write his final year exams next week, was taken away from his campus and allegedly tortured.
This action angered many Nigerians, who asked Mrs Buhari to release the man or charge him in court.
On Tuesday, the student was charged to court by the police, and he was remanded in the Suleja correctional facility in Niger State, pending when his bail application would be heard next Wednesday.
According to his lawyer, Mr C.K. Agu, the student was arraigned before a court sitting in Abuja, but he pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against him.
“Even in the court session yesterday, we notified the judge about the efforts made to have him released on bail, but we did not receive any reply from the police.
“We applied to the court to release the student on bail on health grounds and the fact that he will sit for the exam on December 5.
“The court has ordered the police to provide the bail application before it for consideration between Tuesday and Wednesday,” Mr Agu informed BBC Hausa Service.
On June 9, 2022, Mr Adamu posted a picture of Mrs Aisha Buhari at the presidential primary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja held two days earlier and wrote in the Hausa language, “Su mama anchi kudin talkawa ankoshi,” which loosely means “Mama is feeding fat on poor people’s money.”
House of Reps Probes Incessant Attacks on INEC Offices
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The House of Representatives has condemned the incessant attacks on the offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
At the plenary on Wednesday, the green chamber of the National Assembly said the actions of the arsonists could put the nation’s democracy under threat.
On November 10, 2022, an INEC building in the Abeokuta South Local Government Area of Ogun State was burned, with over 65,000 uncollected PVCs destroyed by the arsonists. A similar incident happened in Osun State and a few days ago, the office of the electoral body was attacked in Ebonyi State.
It was gathered that since 2019, about 42 attacks have been carried out on INEC offices in 14 states and to the House of Reps, this is worrisome.
In order to curb this, the parliament has set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the incessant razing of the offices of INEC within three weeks and produce a report of its findings.
At the plenary presided over by the Speaker, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, the House urged the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), and other security agencies to liaise with the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minster of Justice in bringing the perpetrators to book.
The decision to probe the matter followed a motion on notice moved by a lawmaker, Mr Olarewaju Ibrahim Kunle.
According to him, the attackers destroyed the main building of INEC in Ogun State earlier this month and other facilities such as 904 ballot boxes, 29 voting cubicles, 30 megaphones, 57 election bags, eight electric power generators and 65,699 uncollected Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs).
The lawmaker said on the same day, arsonists and thugs set ablaze the INEC building at Oke Iresi, Ede South Local Government of Osun State.
He warned that if these systematically orchestrated attacks on personnel and facilities of the agency are not checked, the 2023 general elections could be disrupted.
Mr Kunle appealed to his colleagues to take urgent action to protect democracy in Nigeria.
His appeal was welcomed, with the parliament calling on “politicians and stakeholders to admonish their supporters to refrain from attacks and violence before or during the 2023 elections.”
Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers Unveils Platform for Youth to Explore Business Prowess
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
An initiative to give an opportunity to youth in the country to explore their creativity and business prowess has been introduced by Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers Limited.
The platform known as FUZE talent hunt will employ a holistic approach to youth empowerment and feature four categories across music, dance, fashion and technology, a statement from the leading pension fund administrator (based on assets under management) said.
According to the subsidiary of Stanbic IBTC Holdings, the first-of-its-kind talent hunt aims to promote indigenous talents.
The chief executive of Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers, Mr Olumide Oyetan, explained that the project was to the benefit of Nigerian society, adding that as a future-ready organisation, Stanbic IBTC valued talent, creativity and innovation and created the platform to shine the spotlight on youngsters and provide the necessary support they require to succeed, regardless of their chosen sphere of influence or industry.
He stated that youth empowerment had become increasingly essential with the heightened unemployment rate declared by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) at over 33 per cent.
On her part, an Executive Director at Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers, Ms Nike Bajomo, disclosed that the “primary goal of the FUZE Talent hunt is to create a platform for Nigeria’s talented youth to engage and learn from other youths while also gaining access to funds and best-in-class mentoring to support the actualisation of their dreams.”
She urged young Nigerians to participate in the event, stating that the audition application is free, and the public would be relied upon to vote for their preferred candidate, who would be showcased at the grand finale in December 2022.
“FUZE is open to all Nigerians between the ages 18 and 35 years. To participate, you can download the Stanbic IBTC Events App on either the android or iOS store, register and upload an audition video,” she said.
It was disclosed that the winners of the FUZE Talent Hunt would be unveiled at the FUZE Festival slated for December 21, 2022, and in addition to the chance to win N32 million, contestants will gain recognition in the industry and winners will receive mentorship to support their careers.
“Around the world today, young Nigerians are making a statement on the global scene, putting their names and communities on the roadmap to greatness.
“The average young Nigerian is bursting with talent and potential waiting to be harnessed, and we are here to give them the support they need to soar high. After all, Nigeria is our home, and we drive her growth,” the chief executive of Stanbic IBTC Holdings, Mr Demola Sogunle, said.
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