Updated: March 5, 2021
Nigerian activists under the name Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) have sued the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, over stunning alleged corruption in the electricity sector.
SERAP said it dragged Mr. Fashola to court over his failure to account for the spending on the privatization of the electricity sector, and for keeping Nigerians in the dark over the exact amount of post-privatization spending on generation companies (GENCOS), distribution companies (DISCOS) and Transmission Company of Nigeria.
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Why it matters: Billions of naira are believed to have been spent without any result, as Nigerians continue to sleep in the dark without electricity, and companies continue to flee Africa’s most populous nation to find a more conducive environment for business.
The activists want Mr. Fashola to explain whether the spending came from budgetary allocations or other sources.
In the suit filed last week at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, SERAP is seeking an order of the court compelling Mr. Fashola to provide specific details on the privatization of the electricity sector, the names of all the companies and individuals involved, and to make those details public, including on a website.
The suit followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information request dated 7 May 2018 to Mr Fashola giving him 14 days to provide “information on the status of implementation of the 25-year national energy development plan, and whether the Code of Ethics of the privatization process which bars staff of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and members of the National Council on Privatization (NCP) from buying shares in companies being privatized were deliberately flouted.”
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its counsel, Ms. Bamisope Adeyanju, read in part: “Publishing the information requested and making it widely available to the public would serve the public interest and provide insights relevant to the public debate on the ongoing efforts to prevent and combat a culture of mismanagement of public funds, corruption and impunity of perpetrators.”
“Most of the companies that won the bids had no prior experience in the power sector and little or no capacity at all to manage the sector. The privatization of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) have yielded the country total darkness. The gains of privatization have been lost through alleged corruption, manipulation of rules and disregard to extant laws and lack of transparency in the exercise.”