By Ikenna Omeje
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari over his failure to probe how trillions of ecological funds by governments at the federal, state and local governments levels was spent from 2001 to date.
The law suit against Buhari is also because of his failure to ensure the prosecution of alleged perpetrators of corruption and mismanagement of public funds.
Joined in the suit number FHC/L/CS/2283/2022 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Lagos as Respondents are the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.
SERAP is asking the court to “direct and compel President Buhari to promptly and thoroughly investigate the spending of Ecological Fund by governments at the Federal, state and local government levels from 2001 to date.”
SERAP is also seeking the court to “direct and compel President Buhari to ensure that suspected perpetrators of corruption and mismanagement of trillions of ecological funds are promptly brought to justice, and any missing public funds fully recovered.”
Nigeria recently experienced one of the most devastating floods in the history of the country. According to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development at a press conference on October
24, 2022, over 3.2 million people were affected with more than 600 deaths recorded. The flood which rendered many homeless, led to destruction of properties worth billions.
SERAP is arguing that, “the failure to probe the alleged missing trillions, prosecute suspected perpetrators and recover any missing public funds is a fundamental breach of constitutional and international legal obligations.”
It also said that, “impunity for corruption in the management of Ecological Fund will continue as long as high-ranking public officials go largely unpunished for their alleged crimes.”
According to SERAP, “It is in the public interest to direct and compel President Buhari to probe these allegations so that evidence can be taken before the court and the truth about the spending of ecological funds revealed, and justice served,” adding that “the Federal Government has violated the obligations to protect and uphold the human rights of those affected, and to provide them with access to justice and effective remedies.”
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyer Kolawole Oluwadare, reads partly: “the Federal Government has the legal obligations to address the calamitous consequences of flooding for the human rights of millions of people, and to prevent and address the consequences that climate change may reap on human rights.”
Citing audit of the Ecological Fund Office carried out by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, (NEITI), the group said that between December 2011 to November 2016 alone, the fund received N277 billion.
“The operations of the Fund from 2012 to 2016 reportedly showed that some of the disbursements were not utilised for the purpose for which it was established. During these periods, N74,170,932,645.20 was released to State Governments to solve ecological problems in their States.
“Although ecological funds are shared across the three tiers of government, and emergency management agencies, the funds are managed and supervised by the Federal Government,” SERAP argues.
SERAP Sues Buhari Over Failure To Probe ‘Missing Trillions of Ecological Funds’ is first published on The Whistler Newspaper
Source: The Whistler.