A Federal High Court in Abuja has granted the Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project (SERAP) permission to proceed with its lawsuit against the oil producing states’ governors, over “their failure to account for the spending of the oil derivation refunds of N625bn recently paid to them by the Federal Government, including details and locations of projects executed with the money.”

The civic group stated this in a tweet, revealing that the leave was granted by Hon. Justice Omotosho on Friday:

“BREAKING: Hon. Justice Omotosho of the Federal High Court, Abuja yesterday granted SERAP the leave to pursue our suit seeking to compel Wike, Okowa, and other Niger Delta governors to account for their spending of over N625 billion oil derivation refunds,” SERAP tweeted on Saturday.

President Muhammadu Buhari-led government had recently paid N625.43 billion oil derivation refunds to the governors of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Rivers, Ondo, Imo and Cross River states. The payments covered 13 per cent oil derivation, subsidy and SURE-P refunds from 1999 to 2021.

In the suit, numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/2371/2022, SERAP is asking the court to direct and compel the governors to disclose and publish spending of the derivation, subsidy and SURE-P refunds.

The group is also asking the court to compel President Muhammadu Buhari to direct anti-corruption agencies to investigate spending of the public funds collected by the governors, and where appropriate, ensure prosecution of suspected perpetrators and recovery of proceeds of corruption.

In the suit, the organisation is arguing that the 1999 Constitution (as amended), Freedom of Information Act and African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights impose transparency obligations on governors to disclose spending of oil derivation, subsidy and SURE-P refunds.

“State governors cannot hide under the excuse that the Freedom of Information Act is not applicable to their states. The governors also have clear legal obligations to provide the information, as prescribed by the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,” the court document read.

“It is in the public interest and the interest of justice to grant this application. Nigerians are entitled to their constitutionally and internationally recognized human right to information.”

SERAP is also arguing that, “The constitutional principle of democracy provides a foundation for Nigerians’ right to know details of spending of public funds. Citizens’ right to know promotes openness, transparency, and accountability that is in turn crucial for the country’s democratic order.

“The public interest in obtaining the information about expenditures relating to the refunds outweighs any other interests. The oversight afforded by public access to such details would serve as an important check on the activities of the governors, and help to prevent abuses of the public trust.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: