Disclosure News

Factual Reportage

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) initiated legal action against the governors of the 36 states and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, for their failure to disclose and publish the terms of the ₦5.9 trillion and $4.6 billion loans secured by their states and the FCT, respectively.
The lawsuit, registered as FHC/ABJ/CS/592/2024, was filed on Friday by SERAP’s lawyers – Kolawole Oluwadare, Kehinde Oyewumi, and Valentina Adegoke, at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The lawsuit follows SERAP’s earlier demand, which was communicated to the 37 respondents in a statement released by the organization’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, on March 31, 2024.

According to a statement shared on Sunday, the court was requested to “direct and compel the governors and Mr. Wike to account for ₦5.9trn 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.”

On May 29, 2023, Kaduna State Governor, Uba Sani, lamented the substantial debt left by his predecessor, Nasir El-Rufai, stating that the state is now facing a shortage of funds, insufficient to cover salaries.

He disclosed that his administration inherited a total of $587 million, ₦85 billion, and 115 contract liabilities from the former 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 lawsuit, SERAP argues that granting the requested reliefs is in the public interest, asserting Nigerians’ right to scrutinize loan agreements and comprehend the utilization of domestic and external loans by governors and the FCT minister.

They emphasized that opacity in loan spending would negatively impact citizens’ fundamental interests.

SERAP highlighted that states, including the FCT, allegedly misuse public funds, including loans, for unnecessary expenses like luxury travel and extravagant vehicles, stressing the need for transparency to enhance accountability, prevent corruption, and foster trust in democratic institutions.

They emphasized that governors and the FCT minister cannot evade transparency obligations, citing constitutional and international human rights standards.

While no hearing date is set, SERAP linked poverty and underdevelopment to alleged corruption and mismanagement of public funds, citing Debt Management Office data on state debts.

They stressed the vulnerability of these loans to corruption and mismanagement, urging the respondents to ensure transparency and accountability in their expenditure.

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