A group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Abuja Federal High Court to order President Muhammadu Buhari to publish details of loans that have been obtained by the government since May 29, 2015.
Details which the court was asked to order Buhari to publish include the interest rate, the total amount of debts that have so far been incurred by his administration, and the projects on which the loans have been spent.
Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice; Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning; and Patience Oniha, Director-General of the Debt Management Office, were joined as respondents in the suit numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/785/2020.
SERAP is asking the court to compel 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”.
The group also asked the court to direct the President 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, in the originating summons, argued that lack of transparency 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 said.
The group noted that the suit was 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.
No date has been fixed for hearing of the suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Adelanke Aremo.
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