The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked a 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, including 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 followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information (FoI) request dated May 30, 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 the loans.
President Buhari had recently sought the National Assembly’s approval for a fresh loan of $5.513 billion, reportedly to fund the 2020 budget deficit, critical projects, and support some states.
The National Assembly also recently approved an N850 billion loan. Another loan of $22.79bn had previously been approved by the National Assembly.
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Adelanke Aremo, read in part: ”The massive and growing national debts have continued to have negative impacts on socio-economic development and on Nigerians’ access to public goods and services, including quality education, adequate healthcare, clean water, and regular electricity supply.
We’ve asked the Federal High Court, Abuja to order President Buhari to publish details of loans that have been obtained by the government since May 2015; the interest rate, the total amount of debts; and details of the projects on which the loans have been spent.
The suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/785/2020 filed last week is seeking an order of mandamus to compel President Buhari to tell Nigerians the countries and bodies that have given the loans, specific repayment conditions, and whether any public officers solicited and/or received bribes.
The suit read in part: “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.
This suit is permitted under the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended), 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.”