SERAP sues Buhari over failure to probe alleged missing trillions in ecological funds

December 5, 2022
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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued President Muhammadu Buhari and two others at the Federal High Court, Lagos, over failure to probe the spending of alleged trillions of naira in ecological funds by federal, state and local governments, from 2001 to date, and ensure the prosecution of suspected perpetrators of corruption and mismanagement of public funds.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

Joined in the suit, as respondents, are the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.

Recall that the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), recently, said no fewer than 600 persons died and 1.3 million rendered homeless as a result of floods that ravaged most states across the country, with destruction of properties worth billions of naira.

In the suit (FHC/L/CS/2283/2022) filed, last Friday, SERAP is asking the court to direct and compel Buhari to investigate alleged spending of the ecological funds.

It is arguing that failure to probe the allegation, prosecute suspected perpetrators, and recover any missing public funds is a fundamental breach of constitutional and international legal obligations.

The organisation is also arguing that impunity and corruption in the management of ecological funds will continue, as long as high-ranking public officials go largely unpunished for alleged crimes.

According to SERAP, it is in the public interest to direct and compel Buhari to probe the allegations, so that evidence can be taken before the court, truth about the spending of ecological funds can be revealed, and justice served.

The body argues that the Federal Government has violated obligations to protect and uphold the human rights of those affected, and provide them with access to justice and effective remedies.

The suit, filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyer, Kolawole Oluwadare, reads in part: “The Federal Government has the legal obligations to address the calamitous consequences of flooding for the human rights of millions of people, and prevent and address the consequences that climate change may reap on human rights.

“According to the audit of the Ecological Fund Office carried out by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), the amount received by the fund, from December 2011 to November 2016 alone, was N277 billion.

“The operations of the fund from 2012 to 2016, reportedly, showed that some of the disbursements were not utilised for the purpose for which it was established.

“During these periods, N74,170,932,645.20 was released to state governments to solve ecological problems in their states. Although ecological funds are shared across the three tiers of government, and emergency management agencies, the funds are managed and supervised by the Federal Government.

“The Federal Government has the legal obligations to prevent and address the threats to human rights that result from climate change and provide access to justice and effective remedies for victims when these rights are violated.”

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