Court Orders Buhari Government to give accounts on how they spend N212bn ($460m) Chinese loan
The government of President Muhammadu Buhari has been asked by an Abuja-based Federal High Court to “account for the spending of $460 million Chinese loan to fund the failed Abuja Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) project.”
The government was also compelled by the court to “publish the total amount of money paid to Chinese and local companies and contractors, specific details of the names of the companies and contractors, and status of the implementation of the project.”
In his ruling in the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)’s FHC/ABJ/CS/1447/2019 Freedom of Information lawsuit, Hon. Justice Emeka Nwite issued the directives.
The lawsuit came after the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, stated in 2019 that “Nigeria was servicing the loan” and that she had “no explanations on the status of the project.”
We are servicing the loan, she allegedly said. Regarding the CCTV project’s status, I am clueless.
According to Nwite, “there is a reasonable cause of action against the government.” He concurred with SERAP on this point. The public is interested in knowing how the $460 million Chinese loan was used. The Court’s decision to deny SERAP’s request for judicial review of the government’s action will be detrimental.
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Furthermore, he added, “The Minister of Finance is in charge of the country’s finances and cannot in any way be imagined to be unaware of the amount of money paid to the contractors for the Abuja CCTV contract and the money intended for the construction of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) headquarters.”
Additionally, Justice Nwite instructed the government “to provide the details clarifying whether the sum of N1.5 billion Naira paid for the failed contract meant to construct the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) headquarters was part of another loan obtained from China.”
The following was part of Justice Nwite’s decision: “SERAP’s basic objectives are to promote human rights, transparency and accountability, and anti-corruption in Nigeria.I humbly believe that SERAP has established a claim to be entitled to the reliefs requested because I believe there is a valid cause of action against the government (through the Minister of Finance).
“It is well established law that when a letter or document is sent by mail, it is assumed that it has been delivered.”