SERAP Petitions EFCC, Seeks Probe Of Gitto’s Church Donation To Jonathan
An anti-corruption and civil rights group,Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) has petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, demanding investigation of the recent donation of a 2, 500-seater church to President Goodluck Jonathan by an Italian construction firm, Gitto Construzioni Generali Nigeria Limited (GCG)
The church, which was built in Mr Jonathan’s home town, Otuoke,was recently commissioned by the president himself during which he admitted soliciting for the favor from the Italian firm and tried hard to justify it.
But in a letter addressed to the EFCC chairman, dated April 2, 2012 and signed by the Executive Director of SERAP, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the group alleged that the donation was a breach of national anti-corruption legislation and the UN Convention against Corruption.
The petition, obtained by ireports-ng.com reads in part: “The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) is writing to request you to urgently begin a thorough, transparent and effective investigation into allegations that the Abuja-based Italian construction company, Gitto Construzioni Generali Nigeria Limited (GCG) gave to President Goodluck Jonathan as ‘gift’ a 2,500-seat church building in Otuoke, his village in Bayelsa State
“SERAP is a human rights non-governmental organization whose mandate include to promote and ensure respect for socio-economic rights of Nigerians, and to promote transparency and accountability in the public and private sectors through human rights
“According to our information, President Jonathan recently confirmed during the dedication of the 2,500-seat church building in Otuoke that the building was donated to him by Gitto Construzioni Generali Nigeria Limited (GCG).
“According to the president, the managing director of Gitto made him a promise to build and donate the church to Otuoke community after he had complained of the aging structure of his church, which apparently no longer befits the status of the president’s village.
“Foreign bribery is a crime even if the briber would have been awarded a contract or business advantage.
“SERAP is seriously concerned that given the huge sum of money involved and the timing of the church gift, alleged gift may amount to a bribe to the government by a construction company that has sought and obtained contracts from the federal government.
“Procurement and investment agreements corrupted by this kind of ‘gift’ invariably lead to increased costs not only in higher prices but also in needlessly expanded and ultimately inefficient projects.
“Both the acts of giving and accepting the disguised bribe undermine the institutions and values of democracy, ethical values and justice, and jeopardises sustainable development and the rule of law. The acts also hurt the government and ordinary Nigerians who may suffer as a result of bad execution of projects by GCG.
“The allegations also violate Section 6 of the Code of Conduct for Public officers embodied in the First Schedule of the 1999 Constitution and the Code of Conduct and Tribunal Act (CAP C15) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, which provides that, “A public officer shall not ask for or accept any property or benefits of any kind for himself or any other person on account of anything done or omitted to be done by him in the discharge of his duties. For the purposes of subsection (1) of this subsection, the receipt by a public officer of any gifts or benefits from commercial firms, business enterprises or persons who have contracts with the Government shall be presumed to have been received in contravention…unless the contrary is proved.”
“The allegations also constitute a breach of national anti-corruption legislation and the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a party.
“It is very important that the Commission sends a strong message that it is willing and able to step up its efforts to detect, investigate and prosecute cases of bribery in international business deals.
“SERAP therefore urges your Commission to exert its mandate, power, and resources to ensure that the allegations are fully and effectively investigated the findings of the investigation published and the company and other suspected perpetrators are held liable and brought to justice.”