Saturday, June 22, 2024

SERAP Sues Tinubu For Not Publishing Spending Details Of Fuel Subsidy

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Bola Ahmed Tinubu over what they described as “the failure to publish spending details of about N400bn so far saved as a result of the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly called petrol.”

In the suit number FHC/L/CS/1514/2023 filed last week at the Federal High Court in Lagos, SERAP is seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Tinubu to publish details of spending of about N400 billion saved as a result of the removal of subsidy on petrol on 29 May, 2023.”

SERAP is also seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Tinubu to provide details of the plans on how the savings from the removal of subsidy on petrol, including specific projects on which the funds would be spent.” And  “an order of mandamus to compel President Tinubu to provide details of the mechanisms that have been put in place to ensure that the savings from the removal of subsidy on petrol are not diverted into private pockets.”

In the suit, SERAP is arguing that: “Nigerians have the right to know how the savings are spent. Disclosing the spending details of the savings would reduce the risks of corruption in the spending of the funds.” And “The Tinubu government has a legal obligation to ensure that the savings from the removal of subsidy on petrol are spent solely for the benefit of the 137 million poor Nigerians who are bearing the brunt of the removal.” Also that the “Opacity in the spending of the savings from subsidy removal would have negative impacts on the fundamental interests of the citizens and the public interest.”

According to SERAP, “the savings from subsidy removal may be embezzled, misappropriated or diverted into private pockets.”

Read Also : SERAP urges Buhari to recover ‘missing N105.7b’ from MDAs for funding of varsities

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare, Adelanke Aremo, and Valentina Adegoke, read in part: “Transparency would increase public trust and confidence that these savings would be used to benefit Nigerians.”

“The Nigerian Constitution, 1999 [as amended], Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s anti-corruption and human rights obligations rest on the principle that citizens should have access to information regarding their government’s activities.”

“Prevention of corruption in the spending of savings from the removal of subsidy on petrol and preventing and addressing the challenges caused by the removal are serious and legitimate public interests.”

“The Tinubu government has a legal obligation to protect individuals against the threat posed to human rights by the removal of subsidy on petrol, and to effectively address the aftermath of subsidy removal.”

“Unless the government is compelled and directed to publish the spending details of the savings from the removal of subsidy on petrol, the removal will continue to undermine the rights of Nigerians, and increase their vulnerability to poverty.”

“The implementation of the National Social Safety Net Programme (NASSP) and spending on the programme have been mostly shrouded in secrecy.”

“Publishing the details of the spending of the N400bn and other savings from the removal of subsidy would also ensure that persons with public responsibilities are answerable to the people for the performance of their duties.”

“Transparency and accountability in the spending details of the N400bn saved as a result of the removal of subsidy on petrol, and on the spending of subsequent savings from the removal would mean that the savings can help poor Nigerians to overcome the effects of such removal.”

“It would also help to avoid a morally repugnant result of double jeopardy on poor and socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians.”…

“Under Section 16(1) of the Constitution, the government has a responsibility to ‘secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity.’”

“Section 16(2) further provides that, ‘the material resources of the nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good.’”

“Similarly, articles 5 and 9 of the UN Convention against Corruption also impose legal obligations on the government to ensure proper management of public affairs and public funds, and to promote sound and transparent administration of public affairs.”

Nigerians, reacting to SERAPS announcement, accused the organization of filing several fruitless suits against previous regimes.

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