The Socioeconomic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) sent an urgent appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari, asking him to “urgently instruct the Federation's Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abukabar Malami, SAN, to work with ministries and appropriate agencies to identify, publish and use stolen assets confiscated as isolation centers. "
SERAP said: "The use of confiscated assets as isolation centers would provide safe and supportive environments for the treatment and care of people, improve the authorities' ability to respond to COVID-19, reduce risks to Nigerians and public health ".
Health Minister Osagie Ehanire last week had allegedly pleaded with Nigerians to donate and temporarily make their buildings available as isolation centers. According to him, more buildings would be needed, since Nigeria's Disease Control Center (NCDC) plans to test two million people in the next three months.
In the urgent appeal of 2 May 2020 and signed by SERAP's deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization stated: “While it is important to speed up the testing of COVID-19 to prevent the spread of the virus, asking Nigerians to donate their buildings how isolation centers would be counterproductive, as they would put them at greater risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19.
SERAP also said: “Instead of asking Nigerians to donate their buildings as isolation centers, the authorities should identify, publish and use the confiscated assets as isolation centers, as a temporary measure. The use of confiscated assets as isolation centers would be proportionate, necessary and would serve a legitimate purpose, namely, to protect public health and public order (ordre public). "
According to SERAP, “the proposed measure would be lawful and more effective, as it would be in the public interest. The use of confiscated assets as proposed would not violate the accused's property right or imply a duty to compensate. The Minister of Health's proposal would pose unnecessary risks to public health. "
The urgent appeal, read in part: “SERAP asks Mr. Malami to urgently work out the details and modalities for implementing these recommendations with the Ministry of Health, the Nigeria Disease Control Center (NCDC), the Crime Commission Economic and Financial (EFCC) and the Independent Commission on Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses (ICPC). "
“SERAP asks you to ask the Minister of Health to abandon the idea of asking Nigerians to donate their buildings as isolation centers and to move quickly to focus on implementing these recommendations as a step to effectively reduce the spread of COVID- 19, treating and caring for people and fulfilling the right to health, in line with Nigeria's human rights obligations and sustainable development goals. "
"Our recommendations, in addition to being fully compatible with Nigeria's international anti-corruption obligations, including the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which has been ratified, would also increase the authorities' ability to respond effectively and satisfactorily to COVID-19."
"Reducing the health risks associated with Nigerians donating their buildings as isolation centers would complement the authorities' goals to end COVID-19."
"As the right to health is closely related and depends on the realization of other human rights, including the right to private and family life, asking Nigerians to donate their buildings as isolation centers can also violate this fundamental human right."
“The recommendations would also increase the authorities' ability to effectively implement the country's international human rights obligations, particularly with regard to taking effective measures to prevent, treat and combat epidemics, endemics and other diseases, such as COVID-19. "
"SERAP's request is also in line with your government's repeated public commitment to provide details and locations of all recovered stolen public funds."
"The publication of confiscated assets would also be entirely consistent with the trial of Judge Hadiza Rabiu Shagari, of the Lagos Federal Supreme Court, who ordered her government to inform Nigerians of the stolen goods that they allegedly recovered."
“The sentence was handed down in July 2017, after the Freedom of Information process number: FHC / CS / 964/2016, brought by SERAP. His government refused to obey the trial, despite Mr. Malami's public promise to do so. "
"We hope that the highlighted aspects will help guide your actions to ensure enabling environments such as isolation centers to treat and care for Nigerians, as the NCDC takes steps to speed up COVID-19 testing."
The following were copied into the resource: Mr. Abukabar Malami; Dr. Osagie Ehanire; Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General, NCDC; Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, President of ICPC; and Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the EFCC.
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