23rd August, 2010
A coalition of civil and human rights groups in the country has called on the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, to urgently ensure the release of the Okigbo report, which probed the $ 12.4 billion Gulf Oil Windfall during the Ibrahim Babangida military era.
The coalition include the Socio-Economic and Accountability Rights Project (SERAP),Â Women Advocates and Documentation Centre (WARDC),Â Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Access to Justice (AJ), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC), Nigeria Liberty Forum, London, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), and Partnership for Justice.
In a statement urging the CBN governor to hand over a comprehensive statement of accounts relating to the spending of the N12.4 billion in the Dedicated Accounts between 1988 and 1994, documented by the panel to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke for appropriate action, the coalition insisted that the report indicted the retired General and his administration.
The statement made available to P.M.News yesterday read: â€œFollowing 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 requeststo the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
â€œWe have also 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.â€
The coalition further expressed serious concern over the attitude of successive governments to the report of the panel despite what it called the huge tax payersâ€™ money spent on the job of the Okigbo panel.
This situation, the coalition said, has continued to diminish public confidence in the outcome, efficacy and usefulness of subsequent public inquiries.
â€œEarlier 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,â€ the coalition further said while adding that the mismanagement of the fund had undermined the value of the naira for several years resulting in underdevelopment and widespread poverty.
â€œWe 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).
â€œWe are determined to pursue the release of the Okigbo panel report to a logical conclusion and to hold the government accountable to its commitments. Under Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoplesâ€™ Rights which Nigeria has ratified, Nigerians have the right to information on the spending of the $12.4 billion documented by the panel,â€ the group stressed.