Civil society group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari for failing to probe huge spending on the maintenance of Nigeria's four refineries between 2015 and 2020 "may have been stolen, mismanaged or diverted into private pockets".
It added that even though the government reportedly spent N10.23 billion in June 2020 on three refineries that processed zero crude and in 2021, approved $1.5 billion (about N600 billion) to repair the Port Harcourt refinery, the refineries were not fixed.
In the suit number FHC/L/CS/806/2022 filed last week at the Federal High Court, Lagos, SERAP is seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to investigate the spending on Nigeria’s refineries, and alleged mismanagement of public funds budgeted for maintaining the refineries since 1999”.
SERAP is also seeking “an order of mandamus to compel President Buhari to ensure the prosecution of anyone suspected to be responsible for the importation and distribution of dirty fuel into Nigeria, and to identify and ensure access to justice and effective remedies to affected victims.”
“It is in the public interest to ensure justice and accountability for alleged corruption and mismanagement in the oil sector, which has resulted in the importation and distribution of dirty fuel and protracted fuel scarcity in the country," it added.
SERAP is also seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to instruct appropriate anti-corruption agencies to jointly track and monitor the spending of public funds to rehabilitate, operate, and maintain Nigeria’s refineries.”
Joined in the suit as Respondent is Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Adelanke Aremo, read in part: “Nigeria has made legally binding commitments under the UN Convention against Corruption to ensure accountability in the management of public resources. These commitments ought to be fully upheld and respected.
“Directing and compelling President Buhari to probe allegations of corruption and mismanagement of the money meant to repair the country’s refineries would advance the rights of victims of corruption to restitution, compensation and guarantee of non-repetition."
It also said, “High-ranking public officials, including officers of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited suspected of complicity in the allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the oil sector, and the importation and distribution of adulterated fuel have continued to enjoy impunity.
"According to reports, petroleum products with methanol quantities above Nigeria’s specification were recently imported into the country.
“The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) reportedly stated that the methanol-blended petrol was imported into the country by a few suppliers through four premium motor spirit cargoes under its Direct Sales Direct Purchase (DSDP) arrangement.
“According to reports, for every 200 litres of the adulterated product, 800 litres of petrol with good quality would be required for the blending to be done.
“According to reports, the government spends over N264 billion annually to operate and maintain the country’s refineries. Successive governments have reportedly spent trillions of Naira to rehabilitate, operate and maintain the refineries that have produced little or no fuel.
“The government reportedly spent $396 million for maintenance of the country’s refineries between 2015 and 2020 alone. Despite this huge spending, millions of Nigerians continue to lack access to full and unhindered supply of fuel.
“About N82.82 billion was reportedly spent in 2015; N78.95 billion in 2016; N604.127 billion in 2017; N426.66 billion in 2019; N218.18 billion in 2019, and N64.534 billion expenditure was recorded from January to June 2020.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.