SERAP Drags Buhari to ECOWAS Court over Failure to Probe Oil Theft

Udora Orizu in Abuja

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against the government of President Muhammadu Buhari over their failure to probe the operations of illegal oil pipelines between 2001 and 2022.

Precisely, SERAP is probing the president over his inability to name and prosecute those suspected to be involved and to recover proceeds of crime.
The suit was filed by SERAP, Chief Eric Dooh, (who is suing for himself as a leader of the Goi Community in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State, and on behalf of the Goi Community), and 15 other concerned Nigerians.

The suit followed recent reports of the discovery of at least 58 illegal oil pipelines used to steal the country’s oil wealth.
In the Suit No ECW/CCJ/APP/53/22 filed last week before the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja, the plaintiffs are seeking an order directing and compelling the Buhari government to immediately probe the reports of operations of illegal pipelines and oil theft, name and prosecute suspected perpetrators.

The plaintiffs are also seeking an order directing and compelling the Buhari government to fully recover any proceeds of crime and to respect, protect, and fulfil the human rights of the people of Niger Delta that have continued to suffer the effects of oil theft by non-state actors.

In the suit filed on their behalf by their lawyer Kolawole Oluwadare, the plaintiffs contended that, “the plundering of the country’s oil wealth has resulted in the downward trend in revenue and increasing level of borrowing, with reports of a projected N11.30 trillion deficit budget for 2023.

“The unaddressed plundering of the country’s oil wealth has for many years contributed to shrinking revenue, chronic underfunding of public goods and services such as education, health, and safe drinking water, recurring budget deficits, growing level of borrowing, and unsustainable debt profile.

“There are violations of the economic and social rights of the people of the Niger Delta including the rights to an adequate standard of living, and to economic and social development – as a consequence of the plundering of the country’s resources through the operations of illegal pipelines by non-state actors.

“The Buhari government has failed to exercise due diligence to prevent and combat oil theft; to investigate and prosecute suspected perpetrators, and recover proceeds of crimes; and to respect, protect, promote and fulfil people’s rights.”

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