Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has dragged Nigerian governors to court.
SERAP says it has filed a lawsuit against the 36 state governors in Nigeria over “their failure to account for the spending of the N72 billion palliative collected from the Federal Government, including details of the beneficiaries and the reliefs provided with the money.”
Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP Deputy Director, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday.
Recall that in September, the Federal Government said it had disbursed N2 billion out of the N5 billion palliative package to each state of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to address the impact of the removal of fuel subsidy.
Governors across states confirmed receiving the N2 billion subsidy palliative.
To ensure accountability, SERAP, in suit number FHC/L/CS/1943/2023 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Lagos, sought to compel the 36 state governors to account for the spending.
“An order of mandamus to direct and compel each of the 36 state governors to disclose details of the beneficiaries and the reliefs provided to the poorest and most vulnerable Nigerians with the money.
“Government secrecy is fundamentally anti-democratic. Secrecy in the spending of the N72 billion collected by the 36 state governors would create distrust or suspicion of the government. The failure by the governors to account for the public funds is both legally and morally wrong.
“There is no democratic freedom without accountability, and the basic postulate of accountability is that the people should have information about the functioning of the government.
“Compelling and directing the governors to account for the spending of the N72 billion would increase government transparency and enhance an open and democratic society.
“A functioning democracy rests upon participation and accountability. Citizens cannot fully participate in a democracy unless they can effectively enjoy the right to know what their government is doing in their name.
“The right of access to information also lets in light and allows the public to scrutinise the workings of the government and find truth in them. Nigerians have the right to know how their states spend fuel subsidy relief funds. It is part of their legally enforceable human rights.
“Transparency and accountability in the spending of the N72 billion and any subsequent disbursement to the governors would help to reduce the risk of corruption, mismanagement, diversion, or opportunism,” it read.
Meanwhile, the group said no date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
Three weeks ago, SERAP had issued a seven-day ultimatum to the 36 governors to disclose details of the N72 billion subsidy palliative spending.