The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed suit against President Muhammadu Buhari over what it described as “the failure to investigate spending on all social safety-nets and poverty alleviation programmes and projects executed between 2015 and 2022.”
Joined in the suit as respondent is the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN.
SERAP is relying on a recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which showed that some 133 million Nigerians are poor, despite government reportedly spending N500 billion yearly on social investment programmes.
In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/2357/2022 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP is asking the court to “direct and compel President Buhari to thoroughly and transparently investigate the spending on all social safety-nets and poverty alleviation programmes and projects executed between 2015 and 2022.”
SERAP is also asking the court to “direct and compel Buhari to ensure that suspected perpetrators of corruption and mismanagement of public funds meant to take care of the poor face prosecution, as appropriate, and any stolen public funds are recovered.”
In the suit, SERAP is arguing that, “Nigerians have the right to be free from poverty. Allegations of corruption in social safety-nets and poverty alleviation programmes pose both direct and indirect threats to human rights, and contribute to extreme poverty in the country.”
SERAP is also arguing that, “Investigating the allegations of corruption in the spending on social safety-nets and poverty alleviation programmes and projects and recovering any stolen public funds would serve the public interest.
“The government has legal obligations to effectively and progressively address and combat extreme poverty as a matter of human rights.”
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare, Kehinde Oyewumi, and Blessing Ogwuche, read in part: “The failure to address extreme poverty has resulted in high levels of inequality, and serious violations of economic and social rights of socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians.
“The NBS report suggests a grave violation of the public trust, and the lack of political will by the government to uphold the country’s constitutional and international human rights obligations.
“The consequences of corruption are felt by citizens on a daily basis. Corruption exposes them to additional costs to pay for health, education and administrative services.”
“The report that 133 million Nigerians are poor suggests corruption and mismanagement in the spending of trillion of naira on social safety-nets and poverty alleviation programmes, including the reported disbursement of over $700 million from the repatriated Abacha looted funds to these programmes.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.