SERAP kicks against proposed amnesty law for suspected looters

House of Representatives

A Lagos-based rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) has enjoined the Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, to withdraw a pending bill before the chamber seeking to pardon and allow suspected looters of the treasury keep their ill-gotten wealth.

In a communication to the nation’s number four citizen, SERAP urged him to take necessary measures in killing the proposal.

Under the proposed law, sponsored by Linus Okorie (PDP, Ebonyi), suspected looters would be immune to inquiries or prosecution and can not be compelled to disclose the source of their ‘wealth’ as long as they invest them in Nigeria.

Instead, the group asked Dogara to proactively take steps to promote bills that would radically reform the nation’s criminal justice system to prevent corruption and ensure that suspected perpetrators, regardless of status, were punished in a manner proportionate to the gravity of the offence (s).

In the letter, dated June 30, 2017 and signed by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, SERAP urged the speaker to use his “leadership position to take, without delay, all necessary measures to withdraw the bill. The House should allow justice and accountability in grand corruption cases, and not impunity or immunity.

“The amnesty bill for suspected looters unquestionably conflicts with Nigeria’s obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Corruption to establish territorial criminal jurisdiction over corrupt acts, prosecute alleged offenders and apply prescribed sanctions through a fair trial.”

The group continued: “Rather than proposing amnesty for suspected looters of our commonwealth, the chamber, under your 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 letter reads in part: “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 piece of legislation is also counter-productive, 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.”

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