Court orders Buhari’s minister to explain N729bn disbursement

Justice Dehinde Dipeolu of the Federal High Court in Lagos has directed the former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development, Sadia Umar-Farouk, to give details of how N729bn allegedly disbursed to 24.3 million poor Nigerians was carried out.

The court ruled that the ex-minister should provide a list of all the beneficiaries, including their bank details, that received the N5,000 disbursed for six months.

The judge gave the orders while delivering judgment on a suit, marked FHC/L/CS/853/2021, filed by Social Economic Rights and Accountability Project.

According to SERAP, the judgment was delivered in June while the certified true copy was released by the court on Friday.

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In a statement on Sunday, SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oludare, explained that Umar-Farouk filed a preliminary objection to challenge the suit but the court dismissed it.

According to SERAP, Justice Dipeolu, while delivering the judgement, held that “The former minister is compelled by the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act to give information to any person, including SERAP. I, therefore, grant an order of mandamus directing and compelling the minister to provide the spending details of N729bn to 24.3 million poor Nigerians in 2021.

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“Provide SERAP with details of how the beneficiaries have been selected and the mechanisms for the payments to the beneficiaries.

“Explain the rationale for paying N5,000 to 24.3 million poor Nigerians, which translates to five per cent of Nigeria’s budget of N13.6tn for 2021.”

Reacting to the judgment, SERAP’s Deputy Director,  Oluwadare, said the ruling was a victory for transparency and accountability in the spending of public funds.

He said, “Justice Dipeolu’s judgment shows the urgent need for the Tinubu government to genuinely address the systemic allegations of corruption in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development and other ministries, departments and agencies, as documented by the Auditor-General of the Federation.

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“We commend Justice Dipeolu for her courage and wisdom and urge President Bola Tinubu to immediately obey the court orders.”

SERAP said the immediate enforcement and implementation of the judgment by the Tinubu’s government would be a victory for the rule of law, transparency, and accountability in the governance processes and management of public resources.

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