Paris Club Refunds: SERAP Urges Court To Compel FG To Publish Details Of Spending

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has asked the Federal High Court in Lagos, to compel Nigeria’s Government to publish details of the Paris Club loan refunds.

Already, SERAP has sought an order of mandamus, directing the government to publish details of how the N388.304 billion refunded by the international creditors were utilized.

In the suit No. FCH/CS/523/17, filed on Tuesday, the group is seeking “an order to compel the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, to compile and pass on to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubabar Malami, information relating to the release and spending of N388.304billion London Paris Club Loan refunds to the states.”

SERAP is also seeking an order “for the AGF to use the information on the spending by the 35 states to initiate legal action against the states that allegedly diverted and mismanaged the funds with a view to compelling the states to widely publish, including on a dedicated website, details of spending of the funds by them.”

The rights group argued that the action was taken to know what happened to the funds and to ensure the provisions of the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act, which is applicable in across the federation are invoked against states that misapplied the funds.

The suit, which was filed on behalf of SERAP by its Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, read in part: “The Applicant argues that allegations of corruption and mismanagement of N388.304 billion London Paris Club loan refunds by states have undermined the human dignity of workers and pensioners facing difficult circumstances that deprive them of their capacity to fully realize their internationally recognized economic and social rights.

“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 realize the right of all persons especially workers and pensioners who are the most vulnerable sectors of the population.

“The Federal Government has a constitutional and statutory obligation to contribute to the eradication of corrupt practices and abuse of power, ensure proper organization and maintenance of all information in its custody in a manner that facilitates public access to such information, and make readily this available to applicants whenever it is sought.

“Since the receipt of SERAP’s letter dated March 17, 2017, and up till the filing of this suit, the government has so far failed, refused and/ or neglected to pass on to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, information relating to the release and spending of N388.304billion London Paris Club Loan refunds to 35 States by the Federal Government for appropriate legal action against the states.”

The group, among others, is seeking a declaration that the respondent’s failure to compile and pass to the AGF, information relating to the release and spending of N388.304billion London Paris Club Loan refunds to 35 state, so legal action be taken against the states that allegedly diverted and or mismanaged the funds and to compelling the states to publish, including on a dedicated website, details of spending of the funds by them contradicts with duties and obligations of the government under the 1999 Constitution (as amended), and the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000 and the Freedom of Information Act 2011.

“Unless the reliefs sought are granted, the respondent will not immediately compile and pass on information to the Attorney General of the Federation regarding the release and spending of the London-Paris Club Loan refunds to enable him to take steps to pursue appropriate legal action against states that allegedly diverted and mismanaged the loan refunds.”

The suit was brought under Order 34 Rules 1(1)(A), 2, 3(1) and (2)(A), (B) and (C) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2009; Section 26(2) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000; Section 1(1), (2), (3); 2(7), 4(A), and 20 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011; Section 15(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended); and the inherent jurisdiction of the court.

The Federal Government had released N388.304 billion of the N522.74 billion to 35 states as refunds of over-deductions on London-Paris Club loans.

The amounts received by the states were as follows: Akwa Ibom N14.5bn; Bayelsa N14.5bn; Delta N14.5bn; Kaduna N14.3bn; Katsina N14,5bn; Lagos N14.5bn; Rivers N14.5bn; and Borno N13,654138,849.49.

Others were: Imo 13bn; Jigawa 13.2bn; Niger N13.4bn; Bauchi N12.7bn and Benue N12.7bn, Anambra N11.3bn; Cross River N11.3bn8; Edo N11.3bn; Kebbi N11bn; Kogi N11.2bn; Osun N11.7bn; Sokoto N11.9bn; Abia N10.6bn; Ogun N10.6bn; Plateau N10.4bn; Yobe N10bn; and Zamfara N10bn.

Other were: Adamawa N4.8bn; Ebonyi N3.3bn; Ekiti N8.8bn; Enugu N9.9bn; Gombe N8.3bn; Kwara N5.4bn; Nasarawa N8.4bn; Ondo N6.5bn; Oyo N7.2bn and Taraba N4.2bn.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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