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$12.4BN OIL WINDFALL: CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS SEND OKIGBO REPORT ON IBB TO FG

By NBF News
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True to their words, ten civil society groups, on Wednesday, fulfilled the request by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, (SAN) by sending to him, signed original copy of the late Dr Pius Okigbo Panel Report, which indicted former President, Ibrahim Gbadamosi Babangida (retd) over allegations of corruption and mismanagement of $12.4 billion accrued boil revenue to the national .

The groups comprised: the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP; Women Advocates and Documentation Centre, WARDC; Access to Justice, AJ; Committee for Defence of Human Rights, CDHR; Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC; Partnership for Justice, PFJ; Human and Environmental Development Agenda, HEDA; Nigeria Liberty Forum, NLF; Nigeria Voters Assembly, VOTAS; and Centre for the Rule of Law, CFR.

Last week, the AGF, while responding to a petition sent to his office in April by the groups, requested, 'for a signed copy of the Okigbo Report attached to your letter under reference.' He assured the groups that he would deal with the matter once he received the signed original copy of the report.

Adoke's response was contained in a letter dated 16th April, 2010, with reference number HAGF/PG/2010/Vol1, and signed by Tunde Busari, Special Assistant to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

In a covering letter dated 5th May 2010, accompanying the 352-page original report sent to Mr Adoke, the groups stated that, 'Now that we have gone the extra mile to fulfil the request by the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, we expect that you would now move swiftly to prosecute former president Babangida on the basis of the Okigbo report, and ensure justice to the victims of the mismanagement and corruption documented in the report. Time is now of essence; any further delay would be justice delayed, which as you know, is justice denied.

As you would note on pages 208 to 234 of the signed original report sent to you, there were clear and strong statements, which constituted an indictment that could not and should not be swept under the carpet for the sake of justice, and in the interest of the present and future generations.

The groups added: 'We believe the report was never missing but had remained in the custody of the government for years. We noted that it was the government of former president Olusegun Obasanjo that first used the word 'missing' apparently to cover up the outcome of the diligent investigation carried out by the late Dr Pius Okigbo Panel.

'We therefore state that what had been missing was not the Okigbo report but the political will by successive governments to act decisively on the report. By so doing, demonstrate to the international community that when it comes to the fight against corruption in this country, there would be no sacred cows.'

Earlier, the groups, while responding to Adoke's request for a signed original copy of the Okigbo report said in a letter dated 27 April 2010 that':'We welcome your quick response, which is unprecedented, and your interest in the matter. Your interest in this case demonstrates the willingness by Acting President Goodluck Jonathan to exercise the requisite political will to translate into action his oft-repeated commitment to sanction corruption and tackle the impunity of perpetrators, which is the single, most important factor for the prevalence of high level official corruption in the country.'

The groups however advised the minister to 'use his good offices and leadership as the Chief Law Officer of the Federation to obtain the original copy of the report from the cabinet office through the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF). We believe that accessing or obtaining the original copy of the Okigbo report is a public function, which would be best performed through the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. Also, in criminal matters like this, government can also be asked to submit the original copy of the Okigbo report by way of subpoena. We believe that pursuing the above, suggested course of action will ensure that substance (and justice) prevails over technicality.'

The groups noted that the citizens had continued to 'suffer the debilitating consequences of the mismanagement of the $12.4 billion. The mismanagement of this staggering amount has continued to undermine the value of the naira, precipitating underdevelopment and poverty, and impacting negatively on the living standards of millions of Nigerians, especially the most vulnerable sectors of the society.'