The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) on Saturday, August 1, urged 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″.
It also urged the government to include 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.
The suit filed by SERAP included: 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; as respondents.
SERAP 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 a plan to audit the spending of the loans, to resolve any allegations of mismanagement and corruption.”
The organisation also appealed to 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.”
This lawsuit comes in the aftermath of a Freedom of Information (FoI) request by SERAP dated 30 May 2020 to President Buhari; expressing “concerns that while governments since 1999 have borrowed money in the name of Nigeria and its citizens; much of the funds have reportedly been mismanaged; stolen or squandered; leaving the citizens with the burden of having to repay these loans.”
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Adelanke Aremo reads in part: “SERAP is praying the court to hold that the interest of the public in publishing the information sought; is far greater than any other interest President Buhari may be trying to preserve.
“Transparency and accountability in the spending details of all the loans that have so far been obtained by the government; and those obtained by previous administrations would mean that the loans can help Nigeria to overcome its acute development challenges; and reduce the possibility of mismanagement and corruption.
“SERAP is seeking an order to direct and compel President Buhari to disclose information on details of spending of loans; obtained by successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999; list of countries and bodies that have given the loans; and specific conditions of repayment of the loans.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.