By Chiamaka Akumka
A civil society organisation, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to seek arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC)to bring the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, before the court on allegations of corruption against her. It urged the government to consider her offence as crimes against humanity and serious enough for it to sanction her prosecution before the court.
The organisation also urged the government to â€œpursue civil actions to ensure that all the funds allegedly stolen by her are fully recovered and duly accounted for.â€
In a statement datedÂ September 3, 2017 and signed by SERAPâ€™s Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, the organisation said: â€œThe allegations of corruption against Alison-Madueke suggest the manifest failure of the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan to protect Nigerians from such heinous crimes. Your government now has the responsibility to take bold action to sufficiently redress this injustice committed against Nigerians, and the significant long-term damage for the country.â€
The organisation said: â€œBy pursuing international warrant of arrest for Alison-Madueke in order for her to be brought before the ICC, your government would be showing to Nigerians that it is indeed determined to match its stated commitment to combat grand corruption and its debilitating effects with concrete and bold action.â€
SERAPâ€™s request followed growing allegations of corruption against Mrs Alison-Madueke and the recent disclosure by the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had recovered about half a trillion naira from her. Several court orders have also seized millions of dollars from bank accounts and forfeiture of several houses both in Nigeria and abroad linked to her.
The statement read in part: â€œSERAP believes that as important as it is, the recovery of alleged stolen public funds from Alison-Madueke is far from adequate to redress the crimes against humanity that have been committed against Nigerians. The allegations of corruption clearly suggest the exploitation of Nigeriaâ€™s natural resources to the detriment of its people, and are serious enough to meet the requirements of crimes against humanity, thus bringing her within the jurisdiction of the ICC.
â€œPursuing this case before the ICC would also help to deter grand corruption and its devastating effects on Nigeria and contribute to the development of case-law in the field of corruption and citizensâ€™ socio-economic rights, and ultimately advance the right of Nigerians to restitution, compensation and guarantee of non-repetition. Such bold initiative would also improve public confidence in the fight against corruption.
â€œWe also urge your government should urgently propose legislation that would characterise the kind of corruption allegedly committed by Alison-Madueke as crime against humanity within our national laws, and thus allow Nigerian courts to directly hear those cases.
â€œIn this case, the inhumane acts committed against Nigerians take the form of grand corruption, and taking away our commonwealth for her personal benefit, the corrupt acts apparently took place over an extended and critical period during the government of former President Jonathan. Alison-Madueke knew or ought to have known that such level of alleged corruption by her would cause or contribute to or aggravate the suffering of marginalized and vulnerable Nigerians, denying them access to the basic necessities of life.
â€œThe fact that such enormous crimes could went on for such a long time without any form of redress is an affront to universal human rights of Nigerians to their natural wealth and resources. SERAP believes that causing unspeakable hardships or aggravating the suffering of large numbers of Nigerians ought to constitute an inhumane act of a nature amounting to a crime against humanity, for which the most appropriate forum of redress is the ICC.â€