The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has disclosed that a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja granted her request to sue President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President Ahmed Lawan, and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila “over failure to disclose details of allocations, disbursement and spending of an estimated N241.2 billion yearly as security votes between 1999 and 2019.”
DAILY NIGERIAN reports that others parties joined in the suit are Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Ahmed Idris, Accountant-General of the Federation and Anthony Ayine, Auditor-General for the Federation.
A statement on Monday signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare said Justice Ahmed Ramat-Mohammed gave the ruling following the hearing of an argument on ex parte motion by SERAP’s counsel, Opeyemi Owolabi.
According to the statement, Justice Ramat-Mohammed ruled that hearing notices be issued and served on all the respondents within 8 days.
The judge, however, adjourned the motion on notice to December 10 for hearing.
In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1369/2019, followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information requests, applying for judicial review and an order of mandamus directing and compelling the President Buhari, Mr Lawan, and Mr Gbajabiamila to disclose details of spending of budgetary allocations as security votes since 1999.
The suit read in part: “Nigerians have the constitutional and international human right to know the details of the exact amounts that have been spent as security votes and specific areas and projects covered by the allocation, disbursement and spending.
“There is overriding public interest in Nigerians having access to these details, and the respondents have legal obligations to facilitate public access to such information.”
“Constitutional provisions requiring governments to ensure the security and welfare of the people are intended to protect the security and safety of citizens and not the security of a few individuals in government.
“Without transparency and accountability, mismanagement and corruption in the allocation, disbursement and spending of security votes will continue with devastating consequences.”
“Public officials receiving and spending security votes ought to come clean with Nigerians on how exactly these public funds are spent.
“Unless the reliefs sought are granted, Nigerians would continue to see the appropriation of public funds as security votes as a tool for self-enrichment.”
“The suit is seeking to offer governments at all levels an important opportunity to be transparent and accountable with the exercise of their discretionary powers in the allocation, disbursement and spending of security votes.
“The public interest in the disclosure of these details outweighs any private interest the respondents may be seeking to protect.”
“As revealed by a 2018 report by Transparency International (TI), most of the funds appropriated as security votes are spent on political activities, mismanaged or simply stolen.
“It is estimated that security votes add up to over N241.2 billion every year. On top of appropriated security votes, governments also receive millions of dollars yearly as international security assistance.”