Corruption: SERAP Sends Public Registers Request To Justice Minister
From left: Former Attorney-General of the Federation and Ministers of Justice, Adetokunbo Kayode; Boyo Ojo; Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami during the inauguration of the Board of Parastatals and Agencies under the Federal Ministry of Justice (image courtesy: Johnson Udeani/HB/NAN)

Rights group SERAP has asked the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abukabar Malami (SAN), to develop public registers for corrupt Nigerians, including state governors, charged with and convicted since 1999.

SERAP made the request in an open letter to the minister dated August 23, 2019 and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare.

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It said that the proposed registers would be a proportionate response to the grave crime of grand corruption and impunity of perpetrators.

SERAP urged Malami to ensure that the public registers contain accurate data and are fully accessible and open to public scrutiny.

“Public registers for high-ranking officials facing corruption charges and those convicted of corruption would be a pivotal moment in the fight against corruption by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and the damage caused by graft to citizens’ human rights and Nigeria’s democratic process,” it said.

The letter also read, “Grand corruption has continued to fuel political violence, deny millions of Nigerians access to clean water, and even the most basic health and education services, and reinforcing police abuses and other widespread patterns of human rights violations.

“The lack of public registers containing detailed information about high-ranking public officials charged with and convicted of corruption since 1999 has allowed many politicians, often with impunity, to use apparently illicitly acquired wealth to fund political parties, build corrupt patronage networks, thereby preventing fair access to economic and political power, serving to further the wealth and power of ruling elites, and exacerbating inequality.

“Registers would help protect the public from corrupt officials and their collaborators and improve the ideal of representative government, as it would assist the citizens to properly exercise their right to participate in their own government.

“Public registers would improve transparency by making it easier for the public to track the government’s fight against corruption and make the government as open as possible in its anti-corruption efforts.

“SERAP urges you to push for legislation that will require public officials charged with and convicted of grand corruption at the federal, state and local government levels to put their names in the public registers.

“Everyone has the right of access to any information held by the state or by any other person, which is reasonably required for the exercise or protection of any rights, including those of citizens’ right to human dignity and freedom from corruption.

“Registers for corrupt officials would also address the paucity of information about politicians and others complicit in the mismanagement of the country’s natural wealth and resources, with devastating consequences for citizens’ enjoyment of their human rights.

“Many citizens lack knowledge and awareness of those charged with and convicted of grand corruption, and those that are complicit in the mismanagement of the country’s wealth and resources.

“We hope that the aspects highlighted will help guide your actions in developing and adopting public registers for corrupt officials and proposing legislation on the matter, as appropriate. We would be happy to provide further information or to discuss any of these issues in more detail with you.”