The Federal High Court in Lagos has granted an application seeking an order of mandamus to compel the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, and his Agriculture and Rural Development counterpart, Audu Ogbeh, to give account on the spending trillion of naira on water projects between 1999 and 2016.
Justice Hadiza Shagari granted the order last week in favour of a group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) which took the two ministers to court.
In a ruling on Friday, Justice Shagari held, “I have looked at the papers filed by SERAP and I agree that leave ought to be granted in this case to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus, in the interest of justice.”
The judge, while adjourning the case till June 29, 2018, directed that the ministers should be put on notice.
In a statement on Sunday, SERAP’s Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, said the group resorted to a legal action because the ministers shunned its demand for accountability, which it made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act.
In the suit marked, FHC/L/CS/632/18, SERAP is seeking an order Adamu and Ogbeh to “explain why millions of Nigerians have to resort to drinking water from contaminated sources with deadly health consequences, despite the authorities claiming to have spent trillions of naira of budgetary allocations on the sector since the return of democracy in 1999.”
The group contended that “the interest of the public in releasing this information is far greater than any other interest that Mr. Adamu and Mr. Ogbeh may be trying to preserve, considering the grievous consequences associated with lack of access to clean and potable water and its impact on other sectors of the economy and on the realisation of other human rights.”
It added, “Many toilets in public offices are out of order because of lack of water while millions of Nigerians remain desperate for water in their homes, often resorting to contaminated sources and drilling their own boreholes that can become easily mixed with sewage, with negative environmental impacts and devastating for people’s health.”