fbpx
27.1 C
Abuja
Saturday, July 13, 2024

Court Orders Former Humanitarian Minister to Provide List of 24m Nigerians Who Received N729bn

Must read

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered a former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, to account for payments of N729 billion to 24.3 million poor Nigerians for six months.

The court also ordered the former minister to provide the list and details of the beneficiaries who received the payments, the number of states covered, and the payments per state.

The judgment was delivered in June by Justice Deinde Isaac Dipeolu following a Freedom of Information suit number: FHC/L/CS/853/2021, brought by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project.

The certified true copy of the judgment was obtained last Friday by the organisation.

 

In his judgment, Justice Dipeolu held that “The former minister is compelled by the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act to give information to any person, including SERAP. I therefore grant an order of mandamus directing and compelling the minister to provide the spending details of N729 billion to 24.3 million poor Nigerians in 2021.”

Justice Dipeolu ordered the minister to “provide SERAP with details of how the beneficiaries have been selected and the mechanisms for the payments to the beneficiaries.”

The judge also ordered the minister to “explain the rationale for paying N5,000 to 24.3 million poor Nigerians, which translates to five per cent of Nigeria’s budget of N13.6 trillion for 2021.”

She ruled that “the minister did not give any reason for the refusal to disclose the details sought by SERAP. SERAP has reeled out the relevant sections of the Freedom of Information Act 2011 that the minister contravene and has, in line with sections 20 and 25(1) of the Act, prayed this Court for an order of mandamus to direct and compel the minister to provide the information sought.”

Justice Dipeolu dismissed the objections raised by the minister’s counsel and upheld SERAP’s arguments.

 

Consequently, the court entered judgment in favour of SERAP against the minister.

Reacting to the judgment, SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, said the ruling is a victory for transparency and accountability in the spending of public funds.

He said, “This ground-breaking judgment is a victory for transparency and accountability in the spending of public funds.

“Justice Dipeolu’s judgment shows the urgent need for the Tinubu government to genuinely address the systemic allegations of corruption in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development and other ministries, departments and agencies, as documented by the Auditor-General of the Federation.

“We commend Justice Dipeolu for her courage and wisdom and urge President Bola Tinubu to immediately obey the court orders.”

In the letter dated July 6, 2024, sent to President Bola Tinubu on the judgment, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation asked him to direct the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development and the office of the Attorney General of the Federation to immediately compile with the ruling.

The organisation also asked the President to order the release of the spending details of the N729 billion as ordered by the court.

It reads: “We urge you to demonstrate your expressed commitment to the rule of law by immediately obeying and respecting the judgment of the court.

“We urge you to direct the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development and the office of the Attorney General of the Federation to immediately compile and release the spending details of the N729 billion as ordered by the court.

“The immediate enforcement and implementation of the judgment by your government will be a victory for the rule of law, transparency, and accountability in the governance processes and management of public resources, including the N729 billion.”

More articles

Newest article