The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Bola Ahmed Tinubu over “the failure to probe the allegations that $2.1 billion and N3.1 trillion public funds of oil revenues and budgeted as fuel subsidy payments are missing and unaccounted for between 2016 and 2019.”
In a statement on Sunday, SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, said the suit followed the grim allegations documented by the Auditor-General of the Federation in the 2016 and 2019 annual reports that the public funds are missing.
SERAP is seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Tinubu to promptly probe allegations that USD$2.1 billion and N3.1 trillion public funds are missing and unaccounted for between 2016 and 2019.”
In the suit number FHC/L/CS/1107/23 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Lagos, the group also seeks “an order of mandamus to compel President Tinubu to direct the anti-corruption agencies to promptly probe fuel subsidy payments made by governments since the return of democracy in 1999, name and shame and prosecute suspected perpetrators, and to recover any proceeds of crimes.”
It also ants the court to compel President Tinubu to use any recovered proceeds of crime as palliatives to address the impact of the subsidy removal on poor Nigerians, and to put in place mechanisms for transparency and accountability in the oil sector.
“The allegations that US$2.1 billion and N3.1 trillion of public funds are missing and unaccounted amount to a fundamental breach of national anticorruption laws and the country’s international obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party,” the statement read.
“The Tinubu government has constitutional and international legal obligations to get to the bottom of these allegations and ensure accountability for these serious crimes against the Nigerian people.”
According to SERAP, directing and compelling President Tinubu to promptly probe, name and shame and bring to justice the perpetrators and to recover any missing public funds would advance the right of Nigerians to restitution, compensation and guarantee of non-repetition.
“Allegations of corruption in fuel subsidy payments suggest that the poor have rarely benefited from the use and management of the payments,” the group stated.
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare, Ms Adelanke Aremo, Ms Valentina Adegoke, and Ayomide Johnson, read in part: “There will be no economic growth or sustainability without accountability for the human rights crimes.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.