- Category: Society
- Published on Monday, 23 August 2010 05:19
- Written by Nigerian Tribune
- Hits: 1363
COALITION of human rights organisation demanding the release of the Pius Okigbo Panel Report has petitioned the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, urging him to urgently ensure the public release of the original copy of the report.
The group, in a letter dated August 22, 2010 and signed by heads of eight different human rights organisations, said its investigations had shown that the original copy of the report was with the CBN, and, therefore, urged the CBN governor to hand over the copy and/or provide a comprehensive statement of Accounts relating to the spending of $12.4 billion (Dedicated accounts for 1988-1994) documented by the panel to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), for appropriate legal action.
“We have been informed that the original copy of the report is not available in the National Archives, where a copy should have been kept. Our investigation has, however, revealed that the original copy of the report is available at the Trade and Exchange Department of the CBN,” the groups added.
The coalition’s petition was signed by 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), and Joseph Otteh, Executive Director, Access to Justice (AJ).
Others who signed the petition were: Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC); Kayode Ogundamisi, Convener, Nigeria Liberty Forum, London; Olanrewaju Suraju, Head, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), and Itoro Eze-Anaba, Managing Partner, Partnership for Justice.
In the petition, the coalition said that, “following the request from the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, we worked very hard to obtain a copy of the Okigbo Panel Report, and forwarded the report to him. Subsequently, Mr Adoke set up a panel to verify the authenticity of the copy we submitted but the panel was reportedly unable to fulfil this task, citing its inability to find and locate the original copy of the report despite its requests to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.”
The groups also said that, “we are seriously concerned that despite the huge taxpayers’ money spent on the operation and work of the Okigbo Panel, successive governments have failed and/or neglected to release the report, and to bring to justice suspected perpetrators of allegations of corruption and mismanagement documented in the report. This situation has continued to diminish public confidence in the outcome, efficacy and usefulness of subsequent public inquiries.”
“Earlier this month, we gave the government of President Goodluck Jonathan seven days to find and locate the original copy of the missing report. But we have decided to give the government sufficient time and opportunity to respond appropriately to our request by releasing the report, and taking the necessary legal action to ensure justice on the allegations of mismanagement documented in the report,” the groups further said.
The group declared further that they “remain concerned that the mismanagement of the $12.4 billion had continued to undermine the value of the naira for many years, precipitating underdevelopment and poverty, and impacting negatively on the living standards of millions of Nigerians, especially the most vulnerable sectors of the society. We note that the legacy of the mismanagement of the $12.4 billion is still with us today, thus making it difficult for successive governments to significantly reduce poverty in the country or for Nigeria to meet its commitments with respect to the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).”
They noted that given the staggering amount involved and the debilitating impact it has had on the economic and social development of Nigeria, it is in the public interest and in the interest of justice for the original copy of the report to be released, and for the government to take appropriate legal action on the report.