The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has petitioned Michel Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders over the “intimidation, harassment and unfair treatment” of Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The upper legislative chamber had refused to confirm Magu’s appointment, citing a security report by the Department of State Services (DSS) as its reason.
But in the petition dated December 16, and signed by Adetokunbo Mumuni, its executive director, SERAP accused lawmakers of vilifying the anti-graft czar.
“The senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria apparently working with other agencies of government to use a purported security report the senate knew or ought to know is baseless and politically motivated to reject Mr Magu’s confirmation as substantive chairman of the EFCC,” the petition read.
“By relying on a report they knew or ought to know is baseless and politically motivated to reject Mr Magu’s appointment as chairman of the EFCC, the senate of Nigeria has flagrantly violated his right to fair hearing, and is implicitly working to weaken, intimidate, harass and ultimately undermine the independence and freedom of action of the EFCC in its efforts to combat high-profile official corruption.
“SERAP believes that the action by the Senate of Nigeria and other agencies of government apparently working with them undermines and violates Nigeria’s international obligation to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the human rights of the citizens, which inevitably creates a duty for the government to establish efficient and independent anti-corruption mechanisms.”
SERAP urged Forst to “urgently intervene in this matter to stop further intimidation and harassment of a prominent anti-corruption campaigner and human rights defender”.
“Apart from the fact that the allegations against Mr. Magu are baseless and politically motivated, the Senate of Nigeria flagrantly denied him constitutionally and internationally guaranteed right to a fair hearing by not providing him an opportunity to respond to the allegations against him,” the petition read.
“The senate confirmation hearing therefore amounts to a nullification, or destruction of the very essence of the fundamental principles of fair hearing.
“The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria relying on a baseless and politically motivated report declined to confirm the appointment of Ibrahim Magu as substantive chairman of the country’s leading anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The Senate claimed that its action was based on a purported security report forwarded to it by the State Security Service.”