The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent a Freedom of Information request to Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Power, Works and Housing urging him to use his good offices to urgently provide information on specific names and details of contractors and companies that allegedly collected money for electricity projects but failed to execute any projects, starting from the return of democracy in 1999 to 2018.
According to SERAP, “Former Nigeria’s Vice President and Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar reportedly blew the whistle on Channels TV when he said, contractors were given some contracts for power projects and were paid 100 percent upfront. The money went down the drain. Up till now, we are not holding the contractors responsible. People have collected money upfront and have disappeared; and have not even done any work.”
SERAP said, “The revelation by Alhaji Atiku is entirely consistent with SERAP’s recent report titled: ‘From Darkness to Darkness: How Nigerians are Paying the Price for Corruption in the Electricity Sector’, which also revealed how over N11 trillion meant to provide regular electricity supply was allegedly squandered by politicians and contractors under successive governments.”
In the FOI request signed by SERAP Senior Legal Adviser, Bamisope Adeyanju, the organization said: “By publishing the names of the contractors and their registration details, if any, Nigerians will be better able to hold them to account for allegedly absconding with public funds meant for electricity projects, thereby throwing the country into perpetual darkness and socio-economic stagnation as well as denying people their human rights.”
The FOI request read in part: “It is important to show that your office and indeed this administration would not shield or allow ingrained wrongdoing by contractors and companies in the power sector to go unpunished. Unless the names of the contractors and companies are disclosed and widely published, alleged corrupt contractors and companies executing electricity projects will not be deterred and the victims of corruption that they committed will continue to be denied justice and effective remedies.”
“SERAP urges you to publish the names of all contractors and companies that have been engaged in the power sector since the return of democracy in 1999 to date, details of specific projects and the amounts that have been paid to the contractors and companies, details on the level of implementation of electricity projects and their specific locations across the country.”
“SERAP is concerned that to date no contractor or company who allegedly collected money for electricity projects not executed or poorly executed have been investigated for corruption let alone prosecuted and fined. Senior public officials who apparently served as intermediaries for these contractors and companies continue to escape justice.”
The organization added that by publishing the names it will make it hard for contractors and companies to get away with complicity in grand corruption, adding that it will take appropriate legal actions under the Freedom of Information Act to compel the minister to comply with the request.