Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has filed a lawsuit against the President Muhammadu Buhari, over the failure to disclose information and documents relating to the names of people from whom N800 billion looted public funds have been recovered, specific dates of the recovery, and details of projects on which the money had been spent.”
A statement signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, noted that the President had, in paragraph 78 of his speech to mark Democracy Day on June 12, 2020, stated that: “the government has recovered looted funds in excess of N800 billion. These monies are being ploughed into development and infrastructure projects.”
In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1064/2020 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP is seeking “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus to direct and/or compel President Buhari to publish a comprehensive list of names of people from whom N800bn in looted funds have been recovered, the details of spending of the money, and the specific dates of the recovery.”
SERAP is also seeking: “An order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to instruct appropriate anti-corruption agencies to promptly, thoroughly and transparently investigate alleged payment of N51bn of public funds into individual private accounts in 2019.”
Joined in the suit as respondents are Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) and Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
In the suit, SERAP is arguing that the court ought to compel the respondents to disclose the details and whereabouts of the public funds.
“There is no legally justifiable reason why the information should not be made widely available to Nigerians, especially as the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) requires the government in section 15(5) to abolish all forms of corruption. That means ensuring transparency and accountability in the management of public resources and wealth,” it stated.
The suit followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information (FoI) request dated June 13, 2020 to President Buhari, stating that: “The public has a right to know how recovered N800bn loot has been spent, and the details and purpose of the alleged payments of N51bn into individual private accounts. Transparency over transactions by the government is critical to ensuring public confidence in the integrity of management of public resources and wealth.”
SERAP is also arguing that: “Granting the reliefs sought will ensure transparency and accountability, as the information sought to be published will reveal the truth of where money is going and why it is there, and allow Nigerians an opportunity to assess the impacts of any projects carried out with the recovered loot and the alleged payments into individual private accounts.”