Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to order President Muhammadu Buhari to publish details of loans that have been obtained by the government since May 29, 2015.
SERAP also asked the court 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.
In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/785/2020, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami; Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Ms. Zainab Ahmed; and Director-General of the Debt Management Office, Ms. Patience Oniha are joined 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 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.”
According to SERAP: “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.”
SERAP argued that, “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.”
“While access to loans can provide indispensable resources, the mismanagement and squandering of any such resources would be counter-productive. Nigerians should no longer be made to repay debts incurred in their name but which have not benefited them in any manner, shape or form.”
Recall 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 senate also recently approved a N850 billion loan. Another loan of $22.79bn, had previously been approved by the National Assembly.
The court has not fixed a date for the hearing of the suit.