BREAKING: SERAP sues 36 govs, Wike over N5.9tn, $4.6bn loans

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has filed a lawsuit against the governors of the 36 states of the Federation, and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, over their failure to account for, and publish the agreements of the N5.9 trillion and $4.6 billion loans obtained by their states and the FCT, respectively.

 

The suit, numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/592/2024 was filed on Friday on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers – Kolawole Oluwadare, Kehinde Oyewumi and Valentina Adegoke, at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

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The statement on Sunday, asked the court to “direct and compel the governors and Mr. Wike to account for N5.9trn and $4.6bn loans obtained by their states and the FCT and to publish copies of the loan agreements, location of projects executed with the loans.”

The suit is a sequel to SERAP’s demand which was addressed to the 37 respondents in a statement issued by the organisation’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare on March 31, 2024.

Kaduna State Governor, Uba Sani, had bemoaned the huge debt inherited from his predecessor, Nasir El-Rufai, on May 29, 2023.

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Sani said the state is now left with few amounts, not enough to pay salary, adding that his administration inherited a total of $587m, N85bn and 115 contract liabilities from the ex-governor.

 

In the statement, SERAP urged the court to “direct and compel the governors and Mr. Wike to invite the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission to investigate the spending of all the loans obtained to date by their states and the FCT.”

 

In the suit, SERAP is arguing that “it is in the public interest to grant the reliefs sought. Nigerians have the right to see and scrutinise the loan agreements and know the details of how the domestic and external loans obtained by the governors and FCT minister are spent.

“Opacity in the spending of the loans obtained by the governors and Mr. Wike would continue to have negative impacts on the fundamental interests of the citizens.”

 

The statement noted that many states, including the FCT, “reportedly” spend “public funds which may include the loans obtained by them to fund unnecessary travels, buy exotic and bulletproof cars and generally fund the lavish lifestyles of politicians,” adding that they are “allegedly mismanaging public funds which may include domestic and external loans obtained from bilateral and multilateral institutions and agencies.”

READ ALSO: Kano Senator Donates 5,000 Pieces of White Fabric, Clay Pots to Constituents

 

 

The organisation demanded transparency in the spending of the loans as they are “fundamental to increase accountability, prevent corruption, and build trust in democratic institutions with the ultimate aim of strengthening the rule of law.”

 

The statement equally noted that the state governors and the FCT minister “cannot hide under the excuse that the Freedom of Information Act is not applicable to their states and the FCT.”

 

It stated that the “legal obligations to publish the information sought are also imposed by the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”

 

While no date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit, SERAP lamented that the poverty rate, underdevelopment and lack of access to public goods and services in the country are a result of the “many years of allegations of corruption and mismanagement of public funds including the loans obtained by the states and FCT.”

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