- SERAP says proposed registers would be a proportionate response to the grave crime of grand corruption and impunity of perpetrators and have a deterrent effect.
- The group also cited the recent FBI list on suspected Nigerian fraudsters.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abukabar Malami (SAN), to use his good offices and leadership to develop and adopt public registers for corrupt state governors and other high-ranking public officials charged with and convicted of grand corruption since the return of democracy in 1999.
The group in an open letter signed by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare urged the minister to ensure that the public registers contain accurate data and are fully accessible and open to public scrutiny.
“Aspects such as the scope of the registers, who to include in the registers, and eligibility for removal from the registers, can be discussed in a consultative session with the civil society and other stakeholders.”
The organization further pointed that the proposed registers are far from severe and would be a proportionate response to the grave crime of grand corruption and impunity of perpetrators and have a deterrent effect.
“There can be no reasonable expectation of privacy in matters already exposed to public viewings such as prior arrest, charges and conviction records.
“Public registers for high-ranking officials facing corruption charges and those convicted of corruption would be a pivotal moment in the fight against corruption by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and the damage caused by graft to citizens’ human rights and Nigeria’s democratic process.”
SERAP also said that proposed registers for corrupt officials would serve a public interest purpose similar in some respects to the recently disclosed names and details by the United States Department of Justice of 80 defendants, most of whom are Nigerians, that have been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, money laundering, aggravated identity theft and other charges.
“SERAP is concerned that corruption is so pervasive across many states and at several levels of governance and has remained a constant feature of Nigeria’s political scene since 1999, turning public service for many into a kind of criminal enterprise. Grand corruption has continued to fuel political violence, deny millions of Nigerians access to clean water, and even the most basic health and education services, and reinforcing police abuses and other widespread patterns of human rights violations.”
While noting that everyone has the right of access to any information held by the state or by any other person, which is reasonably required for the exercise or protection of any rights, including those of citizens’ right to human dignity and freedom from corruption, SERAP said that registers for corrupt officials would also address the paucity of information about politicians and others complicit in the mismanagement of the country’s natural wealth and resources, with devastating consequences for citizens’ enjoyment of their human rights.
“Many citizens lack knowledge and awareness of those charged with and convicted of grand corruption, and those that are complicit in the mismanagement of the country’s wealth and resources.”
“We hope that the aspects highlighted will help guide your actions in developing and adopting public registers for corrupt officials and proposing legislation on the matter, as appropriate. We would be happy to provide further information or to discuss any of these issues in more detail with you.”