A nongovernmental group, SERAP, has criticised the move by the House of Representatives to pass a bill granting amnesty to treasury looters.
The bill was introduced by Linus Okorie, Ohaukwu/Ebonyi federal constituency of Ebonyi State, and read for the first time on June 14, and now awaits second reading.
The bill seeks to grant looters amnesty against probe, inquiry or prosecution after fulfilling certain conditions.
Those affected would also not be compelled by any authority to disclose the source of their looted funds. The scheme is to last for three years, but it could be extended at the instance of the Federal Government, the bill provides.
But SERAP, in an open letter signed by its executive director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, urged the speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, to use his leadership position to take without delay, all necessary measures to withdraw the bill to grant full and complete amnesty to suspected looters and allow them to keep their ill-gotten wealth.
In a letter dated June 30, SERAP urged the House to allow justice and accountability in corruption cases, and not impunity or immunity.
It further stated that the amnesty bill for suspected looters unquestionably conflicts with Nigeria’s obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption to establish territorial criminal jurisdiction over corrupt acts, prosecute alleged offenders, and apply prescribed sanctions through a fair trial.”
According to SERAP, rather than propose amnesty for suspected looters of our commonwealth, the House of Representatives under Mr. Dogara’s leadership should be promoting laws that would lead to the comprehensive and radical reform of the criminal justice system to ensure that those accused of grand corruption are not allowed to profit from their alleged crimes.
“The proposed bill is neither necessary to prevent corruption nor end impunity of perpetrators, which has allowed corruption in the country to become widespread and systemic,” the group said.
“The bill is also counterproductive, especially at a time Nigerians are witnessing a sprawling gap in accountability for grand corruption, and high-ranking public officials accused of corruption are getting away with reduced punishment, and allowed to keep their ill-gotten wealth.” The letter read.
SERAPs said granting amnesty to perpetrators of corruption violates the right of victims of corruption to an effective remedy.
“An effective remedy entails access to justice, reparation for the harm suffered as a result of grand corruption, and access to the factual information concerning allegations of corruption,” the group said.