Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit asking the Federal High Court in Lagos to compel the federal government to disclose details of proposed payments of N729 billion to 24.3 million to poor Nigerians, including logistics for the payments, list of beneficiaries and whether the payments will be made in cash or through Bank Verification Numbers or other means.
In the suit number FHC/L/CS/853/2021 filed against the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadia Umar-Farouk, SERAP is seeking an order directing and compelling the federal government to clarify whether the proposed payment to poor Nigerians is part of the N5.6 trillion budget deficit.
The organization is also seeking an order directing and compelling the federal government to explain the rationale for paying N5,000 to 24.3 million poor Nigerians for six months, which translates to five per cent of the country’s budget of N13.6 trillion for 2021.
The suit filed last week on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi, read in part: “Transparency and accountability in the programme would improve public trust, and allow Nigerians to track and monitor its implementation, and to assess if the programme is justified, as well as to hold authorities to account in cases of diversion, mismanagement and corruption. The right to truth allows Nigerians to gain access to information essential to the fight against corruption.
“This is in line with the government’s anti-corruption strategy of citizen involvement in the fight against corruption. As a positive development strategy, access to information will foster development of democratic institutions in Nigeria. Democracy cannot flourish in the absence of citizen’s access to information. Public officers are mere custodians of public records. The citizenry is entitled to know how the common wealth is being utilized, managed and administered. This right to know will no doubt help in promoting a transparent democracy, good governance and public accountability.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.