SERAP sues Buhari’s administration over failure to investigate illegal pipelines

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President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has been charged with illegal pipelines and oil theft by the ECOWAS Court of Justice.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) said it had filed a lawsuit against the current administration for “failure to investigate the operations of illegal oil pipelines between 2001 and 2022, to name and prosecute those suspected of involvement, and to recover proceeds of crime.”

The suit was filed by the group, Chief Eric Dooh (who is suing for himself as a leader of the Goi Community in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State, and on behalf of the Goi Community), and 15 other concerned Nigerians, according to SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare.

According to him, the suit was prompted by recent events.

“The stealing is reportedly carried out through the illicit pipeline connected to the trunk line via an abandoned pipeline, and linked to a location in the high sea, where they load crude oil into vessels and sell overseas,” the statement read.

Plaintiffs seek “an order directing and compelling the Buhari government to immediately investigate reports of illegal pipeline operations and oil theft, name and prosecute suspected perpetrators” in Suit No ECW/CCJ/APP/53/22 filed last Friday before the court in Abuja.

The plaintiffs also want “an order directing and compelling the Buhari government to fully recover any proceeds of crime, as well as to respect, protect, and fulfill the human rights of the people of Niger Delta who have continued to suffer the effects of non-state actors’ oil theft.”

“The Buhari government is failing to uphold its international legal obligations to ensure that the country’s oil wealth is used solely for the benefit of Nigerians and that the wealth does not end up in private pockets,” the plaintiffs argued.

“Poor and socio-economically vulnerable Nigerians have continued to pay the price for the stealing of the country’s oil wealth apparently by both state and non-state actors.

“Despite the country’s substantial oil wealth, successive governments have largely squandered the opportunity to use the wealth to improve the lives and well-being of ordinary Nigerians.

“The illegal pipelines have been operated for many years without notice, implying a flagrant violation of international human rights obligations to ensure the proper, effective and efficient management of the country’s wealth and natural resources.”

However, no date has been filed for the hearing of this suit.

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