The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit asking the Federal High Court in Abuja to stop President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government from borrowing an estimated N895bn of Nigerians’ money.
SERAP said the government was targeting unclaimed dividends and balances in dormant accounts, “under the guise of the patently unlawful, unconstitutional and discriminatory legislation known as the Finance Act, 2020″.
In suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/31/2021 filed on Friday, SERAP is seeking an order to restrain the defendants from borrowing and collecting Nigerians’ money and moving the same into the ‘Unclaimed Funds Trust Fund’.
The organization said despite Nigeria’s dwindling oil revenue, public debt and widespread poverty, the President, Vice President, Governors, their Deputies and members of the National Assembly have refused to cut their emoluments, allowances and security votes.
The suit filed by its Kolawole Oluwadare and Adelanke Aremo decried that millions of Nigerians continue to bear the brunt of mismanagement and corruption.
Joined as defendants are Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice; Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; and Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed.
SERAP is arguing that: for there to be a borrower, there must be a lender; that the intention to enter into such a borrower-lender relationship must be known to both parties.
The suit insists that any other arrangement that allows a borrower to access funds from a lender without the knowledge and express consent of the lender will amount to stealing.
The organization said the federal government has repeatedly failed to ensure accountability in the spending of public wealth and resources.
SEEAP listed recovered stolen public funds, the loans so far obtained, estimated to be $31.98bn, and decried the widespread corruption in ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
“By the combined reading of section 44(1) of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) and Article 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Federal Government has absolutely no right to borrow Nigerians’ money in the form of their unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts without their knowledge and express consent”, the suit read.