SERAP gets court’s permission for N388.304bn London-Paris Club loan refund spending review

Oladimeji Ramon

Human rights advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, says it has secured the leave of court to apply for a mandamus order to compel the Account General of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Idris, to publish the details of how the N388.304bn London-Paris Club Loan refunds was spent.

The organisation had in April filed a suit marked, FCH/CS/523/17 before the Federal High Court in Lagos, against the backdrop of allegations that the money was diverted and mismanaged by 35 state governments.

In a statement on Wednesday by its Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, SERAP said Justice Muslim Hassan last Friday gave it the leave to apply for a mandamus order against the Accountant General of the Federation to publish the details of how the N388.304bn was spent.

The judge, according to the statement, granted the leave after entertaining argument from SERAP’s counsel, Ms Bamisope Ibidolapo, who took an ex parte application before him.

He adjourned hearing on the motion on notice till September 14, 2017, for the Accountant-General of the Federation to show cause why he should not be compelled to publish the details of the projects on which the London-Paris Club loan refunds were spent.

In the suit, SERAP is praying the court to, through a mandamus order, compel the Accountant General to compile and pass information on the spending of the N388.304bn to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN).

The group wants the AGF to, upon receiving the information from the Accountant General of the Federation, take legal action against the state governments which allegedly diverted the funds.

SERAP wants the states suspected to have diverted the money to widely publish the details of how the funds were spent, including on a dedicated website.

Adewale argued that the alleged diversion of the N388.304bn London-Paris Club loan refunds had undermined the human dignity of workers and pensioners facing difficult circumstances.

He argued that the alleged diversion had deprived workers and pensioners the capacity to fully realise their internationally recognised economic and social rights.

He added, “The allegations of corruption in the spending of the London-Paris Club loan refunds have also exacerbated poverty, social exclusion, and violated the government’s obligation to use its maximum available resources to fully realise the right of all persons especially workers and pensioners who are the most vulnerable among the population.”