Written by Laraba Murey

Electricity contracts: Obasanjo, Jonathan, others in trouble

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the “immediate release of details of payments to all defaulting and allegedly corrupt electricity contractors and companies by the governments of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, former President Goodluck Jonathan, and the government of Muhammadu Buhari.”

The judgment was delivered last Friday by Justice Chuka Obiozor, following a Freedom of Information, FoI, suit brought by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP.

Obiozor also ordered: “the full disclosure and publication of the names of companies and the whereabouts of the contractors paid by successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999 to carry out electricity projects across the country but disappeared with the money without executing any projects.”

This development was disclosed Sunday in a statement by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare.

The details ordered by the court to be disclosed and published on a dedicated website and widely, include information on: “specific names and details about contractors and companies paid by each government, the total amounts paid by each government and the objects for the payments, the level of implementation of electricity projects, as well as details and specific locations of projects executed across the country by each government since 1999.”

The court also ruled in the suit brought against the Federal Government and the Ministry of Power, that: “the failure by the government of President Muhammadu to provide SERAP with the details of payments made to contractors by each government since 1999 is a breach of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.”

The court also ordered the present government to “urgently disclose if there is an ongoing investigation or prosecution of contractors and companies paid by successive governments since 1999 to carry out electricity projects but failed to execute the projects for which public funds were collected.”

The judge in his judgment granted the following reliefs: “A DECLARATION is hereby made that the failure and/or refusal of the Respondent [Federal Government/Ministry of Power] to provide SERAP with documents and information containing the specific names and details of contractors and companies that have been engaged in the power sector by successive governments since 1999, 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, and failure to widely publish it on a dedicated website, any of such information, amounts to a breach of the obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2011.

“AN ORDER OF MANDAMUS is made directing and compelling the Respondent [Federal Government/Ministry of Power] to urgently compile and make available to SERAP documents and information containing the specific names and details of contactors and companies that allegedly collected money for electricity projects from successive governments since 1999 but failed to execute any projects.

“AN ORDER OF MANDAMUS is made directing and compelling the Respondent [Federal Government/Ministry of Power] to urgently disclose if there is an ongoing investigation or prosecution of allegedly corrupt contractors and companies in the electricity sector.

Oluwadare said: “We welcome the ground-breaking judgment by Justice Obiozor as a victory for transparency and accountability of public officials, electricity contractors and companies and their shareholders. It is an extremely important step toward tackling the impunity in electricity sector, which has for many years forced ordinary Nigerians to stay in darkness, but still made to pay crazy electricity bills.”

According to him, “during the 20 years of Nigeria’s democracy successive governments have failed to increase power generation and provide Nigerians with regular and uninterrupted electricity supply, with many electricity contracts shrouded in secrecy, and trillions of Naira going down the drain.

“This judgment is good news for ordinary Nigerians who have continued to pay the price for corruption in the electricity sector, as they would finally get an explanation on why the country has remained in darkness despite huge investment in the power sector by the governments of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, former President Goodluck Jonathan, and the government of Muhammadu Buhari.”

 

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