The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, SAN has responded to the petition sent two weeks ago by ten Nigerian civil society groups, acknowledging the receipt of the petition but also requesting “for a signed of the Okigbo Report attached to your letter under reference.”

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

The letter dated 16th April 2010 with reference number HAGF/PG/2010/Vol1, was signed by Tunde Busari, Special Assistant to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

Responding, the groups in a letter dated 27 April 2010, said that “We welcome your quick response, which is unprecedented, and your interest in the matter. Your interest in this case demonstrates the willingness by the 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.”
According to the groups, “Regarding your request for a signed copy of the Okigbo report, we would like to respond as follows. First, we strongly believe that the copy we submitted to the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice is genuine and reflects the original copy of the Report, which is in the custody of the government. Given that the Okigbo report is a public document, and the huge public interest to see justice done in the matter, we urge you to use your 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. Also, some of the members of the Okigbo panel like Obong Ufot Ekaette are in the current government, and will have original copy of the report.”

“Second, 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. Third, in criminal matters like this, the 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 added.

The groups also stressed that “as a matter of law, former president Babangida is presumed innocent until found guilty by the court. The fair trial rights of the suspect should be fully respected in any future prosecution. But we also believe that justice is a three-way concept: it should not only be justice for the suspect but also justice for the state and the citizens (the victims), who continue to suffer the debilitating consequences of the mismanagement of the $12.4 billion. We note that 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 society.”

“Therefore, we believe that, whatever its outcome might be, prosecuting the case and recovering any missing public funds would have significant implications for the fight against corruption in Nigeria.  It will also send a strong message to the citizens and the international community that the government is capable of preserving the legitimacy of governmental activity,” the groups further added.

“Given the above considerations, we hope that you will pursue the matter to a logical conclusion without wavering. We hope that you will take concrete action within one week of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. Given your expressed interest in the matter, we hope that you would pursue the case diligently and effectively. But we are leaving open the possibility of taking all appropriate legal actions nationally and internationally to ensure full compliance with Nigeria’s voluntary international anti-corruption commitments, including under the UN Convention against Corruption,” the groups stated.

The letter by the groups was signed by Adetokunbo Mumuni, Executive Director, SERAP; Joseph Otteh, Executive Director, AJ; Auwal Rafsanjani, Executive Director, CISLAC; Kayode Ogundamisi, Convener, NLF; Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, Executive Director, WARDC; Olanrewaju Suraju, Head, HEDA; Olasupo Ojo, President, CDHR; Itoro Eze-Anaba, Managing Partner, PFJ; Moshood Erubami, President, VOTAS; and Tejumade Oke, Programme Director, CFR.

It would be recalled that the groups sent a petition to the Attorney General on 7 April 2010 expressing concerns about “the continuing failure and/or refusal by successive governments to prosecute those involved in the mismanagement of $12.4 billion constitutes a serious breach of Nigeria’s international anti-corruption obligations and commitments including under the UN Convention against Corruption. Under the Convention, Nigeria has a legal responsibility to guarantee victims of corruption an effective investigation and prosecution as a remedy for violations implicating human rights, including economic and social rights.”

Signed:

Adetokunbo Mumuni, Executive Director, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)
Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, Executive Director, Women Advocates and Documentation Center (WARDC)
Olasupo Ojo, President, Committee for Defence of Human Rights (CDHR)
Olanrewaju Suraju, Head, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA)
AND FOR:
Joseph Otteh, Executive Director, Access to Justice (AJ)
Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC)
Kayode Ogundamisi, Convener, Nigeria Liberty Forum, London
Itoro Eze-Anaba, Managing Partner, Partnership for Justice
Moshood Erubami, President, Nigeria Voters Assembly (VOTAS)
Tejumade Oke, Programme Director, Centre for the Rule of Law

27/4/2010

Mohammed Adoke, SAN
Hon. Attorney General of the Federation & Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
New Federal Secretariat Complex, Shehu Shagari Way
Central Area District
Abuja,

27 April 2010
Dear Honourable Attorney General of the Federation & Minister of Justice:

Re: Request to prosecute General Ibrahim Gbadamosi Babangida (rtd) over allegations of mismanagement of $12.4 billion earned from the sale of oil during the Gulf War in 1991
Our letter to you dated 7th April 2010 on the above subject matter refers. We are writing to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated 16th April 2010 with reference number HAGF/PG/2010/Vol1, requesting for a signed copy of the late Dr Pius Okigbo Panel Report, which indicted former President General Ibrahim Gbadamosi Babangida (rtd) over allegations of corruption and mismanagement of $12.4 billion accrued revenue to the national treasury.  

We welcome your quick response, which is unprecedented, and your interest in the matter. Your interest in this case demonstrates the willingness by the 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.

Regarding your request for a signed copy of the Okigbo report, we would like to respond as follows. First, we strongly believe that the copy we submitted to the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice is genuine and reflects the original copy of the Report, which is in the custody of the government. Given that the Okigbo report is a public document, and the huge public interest to see justice done in the matter, we urge you to use your 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. Also, some of the members of the Okigbo panel like Obong Ufot Ekaette are in the current government, and will have original copy of the report.

Second, 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. Third, in criminal matters like this, the 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.

Moreover, we stress that as a matter of law, former president Babangida is presumed innocent until found guilty by the court. The fair trial rights of the suspect should be fully respected in any future prosecution. But we also believe that justice is a three-way concept: it should not only be justice for the suspect but also justice for the state and the citizens (the victims), who continue to suffer the debilitating consequences of the mismanagement of the $12.4 billion. We note that 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 society.

Therefore, we believe that, whatever its outcome might be, prosecuting the case and recovering any missing public funds would have significant implications for the fight against corruption in Nigeria.  It will also send a strong message to the citizens and the international community that the government is capable of preserving the legitimacy of governmental activity.

Given the above considerations, we hope that you will pursue the matter to a logical conclusion without wavering. We hope that you will take concrete action within one week of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. Given your expressed interest in the matter, we hope that you would pursue the case diligently and effectively. But we are leaving open the possibility of taking all appropriate legal actions nationally and internationally to ensure full compliance with Nigeria’s voluntary international anti-corruption commitments, including under the UN Convention against Corruption.

While thanking you in advance of your urgent attention, I look forward to continued dialogue on the issue.  

 Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Adetokunbo Mumuni, Executive Director, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)

Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, Executive Director, Women Advocates and Documentation Center (WARDC)
Olasupo Ojo, President, Committee for Defence of Human Rights (CDHR)
Olanrewaju Suraju, Head, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA)
AND FOR:
Joseph Otteh, Executive Director, Access to Justice (AJ)
Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC)
Kayode Ogundamisi, Convener, Nigeria Liberty Forum, London
Itoro Eze-Anaba, Managing Partner, Partnership for Justice
Moshood Erubami, President, Nigeria Voters Assembly (VOTAS)
Tejumade Oke, Programme Director, Centre for the Rule of Law

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