The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has urged the nine oil-producing states in Nigeria to “provide and widely publish details of spending of the oil derivation refunds of N625bn recently paid to them by the Federal Government, including details and locations of projects executed with the money.”
The Federal Government recently paid N625.43 billion oil derivation refunds to the governors of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Rivers, Ondo, Imo and Cross River states. The payments covered 13 per cent oil derivation, subsidy and SURE-P refunds. The refunds date from 1999 to 2021.
In the open letter dated December 19, 2022 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said, “It is in the public interest to publish the details of spending of the refunds. Nigerians have the right to know how their states are spending the refunds. It is part of their legally enforceable human rights.”
SERAP said, “Disclosing the information would enable Nigerians to scrutinise the spending of the refunds. Publishing the details of the oil derivation refunds would also promote transparency and accountability in the spending of public funds.”
The letter, read in part, “Widely publishing details of the spending of the oil derivation refunds would ensure that persons with public responsibilities are answerable to the people for the performance of their duties in the management of public funds.
“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel you and your state to comply with our request in the public interest.
“The public interest in obtaining the information about expenditures relating to the oil derivation refunds outweighs any privacy or other interests. The oversight afforded by public access to such details would serve as an important check on the activities of your state and help to prevent abuses of the public trust.
“SERAP also urges you to disclose details of spending of the refunds to local government councils through the state accounts, and to explain the role played by your government in the spending of public funds meant for the councils.