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SERAP asks court to compel Buhari to publish loans taken since 2015

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Federal High Court to order President Muhammadu to publish the details of loans taken by his administration since May 29, 2015.

The group in a statement on Sunday said it filed the suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja.

SERAP also asked the court to order the president to provide details of the interest rate accruing from the debt, the total amount of debts that have so far been incurred by the government, as well as details of the projects on which the loans have been spent.

Respondents in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/785/2020 are the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed; and Director-General of the Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha.

SERAP also asked the court to “direct and compel President Buhari to tell Nigerians if he would instruct the anti-corruption agencies; Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to monitor the spending of all loans obtained since May 2015.”

The group further asked the court to compel President Buhari to tell Nigerians the names of countries and bodies that have given the loans to Nigeria.

It added that the suit is “permitted under the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended), the Freedom of Information Act; the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.”

According to the group, the suit followed a Freedom of Information FOI letter it sent to the president in May requesting him to provide spending details of all loans obtained by his government since he assumed office in 2015.
It said it feared the growing national debts of money borrowed in the name of Nigeria may have been mismanaged, stolen or squandered.

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The National Assembly had approved an N850 billion loan requested by President Buhari. Another loan of $22.79bn has already been approved by the Senate. Mr Buhari had also sought the National Assembly’s approval for a fresh loan of $5.513bn to fund the 2020 budget deficit, critical projects, and support some states.

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said the Nigerian government has the capability to pay back loans collected for the construction of rail projects within the stipulated period of 20 years.

He made the remarks following an investigative hearing held last week by the House of Representatives Committee on Treaties, Protocols, and Agreements probing loans taken by the government.



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