Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has asked the Federal High Court, Abuja to order President Muhammadu Buhari to publish details of loans that have been obtained by the government since May 29, 2015, including the interest rate, the total amount of debts that have so far been incurred by this government, as well as details of the projects on which the loans have been spent.
Joined as Respondents in the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/785/2020 are Mr Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice; Ms Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning; and Ms Patience Oniha Director-General of the Debt Management Office.
In a statement issued by Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP Deputy Director, today, the organization is seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to tell Nigerians the names of countries and bodies that have given the loans, specific repayment conditions, and whether any public officers solicited and/or received bribes in the negotiations for any of the loans, and if there is plan to audit the spending of the loans, to resolve any allegations of mismanagement and corruption.”
SERAP is also asking the court to: “direct and compel President Buhari to tell Nigerians if he would instruct the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to monitor the spending of all loans obtained since May 2015.”
SERAP stated that opacity in the spending of loans would continue to have negative impacts on the fundamental interests of citizens. Transparency would ensure that the loans are not diverted to private pockets, increase public trust that these loans would be used to benefit Nigerians, provide good value for money, and reassure Nigeria’s creditors.
According to the organization, this suit is permitted under the Freedom of Information Act, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.
It said the Nigeria government has signed on to the Open Government Partnership, OGP, and the country is a state party to the UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption.”
It would be recalled that Buhari recently sought the National Assembly’s approval for a fresh loan of $5.513bn, reportedly to fund the 2020 budget deficit, critical projects, and support some states. The National Assembly also recently approved a N850 billion loan. Another loan of $22.79bn, had previously been approved by the National Assembly. No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
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