SERAP Charges Buhari To Court, Over Missing N3.1bn In Finance Ministry
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has filed a lawsuit against the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), “over his failure to provide the missing N3bn of public funds, aso Naija reports.
The funds are missing from the Federal Ministry of Finance.
The suit followed the grim allegations by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation in the 2018 and 2019 annual audited reports that N3.1bn of public funds are missing, misappropriated or unaccounted for.
In the suit number FHC/L/CS/148/22 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Lagos, SERAP is seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to ensure the investigation of the alleged missing N3.1bn of public funds, the prosecution of anyone suspected to be responsible, and the recovery of any missing public money.”
In the suit, SERAP is arguing that: “The allegations that over N3bn of public funds are missing amount to a fundamental breach of national anticorruption laws and the country’s international obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.”
According to SERAP, “Investigating and prosecuting the allegations, and recovering any missing public funds would serve the public interest, and end the impunity of perpetrators.”
SERAP is also arguing that, “The consequences of corruption are felt by citizens on a daily basis. Corruption exposes them to additional costs, and undermines economic development of the country, trapping the majority of Nigerians in poverty and depriving them of opportunities.”
Joined in the suit as Respondents are Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation; and Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
SERAP is arguing that, “It is in the interest of justice to grant this application. The suit is in keeping with the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended], particularly the provisions on oath of office by public officers, and section 15 which requires the authorities to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.”
SERAP is also arguing that, “Complying with constitutional requirements and international standards on transparency and accountability would ensure effective and efficient management of public resources, and put the country’s wealth and resources to work for the common good of all Nigerians.”
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Adelanke Aremo read in part: “The failure to investigate the allegations of grand corruption in the Ministry of Finance constitutes a grave violation of the duty placed on the authorities to take appropriate measures to promote transparency and accountability in the management of public finances.”
“President Buhari’s constitutional responsibility to ensure the investigation and prosecution of allegations of corruption, as well as recovery of any missing public funds is contained in Section 15 of the Nigerian Constitution, which provides that ‘the State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power’, and in the Oath of Office in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.”
“The Oath of Office of the President is considered of such importance that section 140 of the 1999 Constitution provides that the President cannot perform his or her respective official functions as President without taking the oath of office.”
“Granting the reliefs sought would help to address the adverse consequences of alleged diversion of public funds on the human rights of poor Nigerians.”
“Mandamus is a high prerogative writ which lies to secure the performance of a public duty. It gives command that a duty of a public nature which normally, though not necessarily is imposed by statute but is neglected or refused to be done after due demand, be done.”