The government of President Muhammadu Buhari is being sued by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) at the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja for failing to look into the operation of illegal oil pipelines between 2001 and 2022, identify and bring charges against those believed to be involved, and recoup proceeds of the alleged crime.
SERAP, Chief Eric Dooh (who is suing on behalf of the Goi Community and for himself as a leader of the Goi Community in the Gokana Local Council of Rivers State), and 15 other concerned Nigerians filed the lawsuit.
The lawsuit was brought after news broke that at least 58 illicit oil pipelines that were being used to siphon off the nation’s oil wealth had been found.
According to reports, the theft takes place through an illegal pipeline that is linked to the trunk line, travels through an abandoned pipeline, and is connected to a point in the high seas where crude oil is loaded onto ships and sold abroad.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, No ECW/CCJ/APP/53/22, filed last Friday, are asking for an order directing and compelling the Buhari administration to look into reports of the use of illegal pipelines and oil theft as soon as possible and to identify and bring charges against any suspected offenders.
Additionally, the plaintiffs are asking for an order compelling the Buhari administration to respect, safeguard, and uphold the human rights of the Niger Delta population, who have continued to suffer the consequences of oil theft by non-state actors. They also want the government to fully recover any proceeds of crime.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit contend that the Buhari administration is failing to respect its commitments under international law to ensure that the oil riches of the nation is used only for the benefit of Nigerians and does not wind up in private wallets.
Additionally, they contend that both state and non-state players appear to have stolen the nation’s oil wealth, with the poor and socioeconomically disadvantaged Nigerians continuing to bear the brunt of this crime. No date has however been fixed for hearing of the suit.