Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Bola Ahmed Tinubu over his 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.
The suit followed reports that the Federal Government had saved N400bn within the four weeks following the implementation of the removal of subsidy on petrol policy.
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.”
SERAP is also seeking: “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.”
SERAP is arguing that, “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.”
The group is also arguing that, “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.
The savings from subsidy removal may be embezzled, misappropriated or diverted into private pockets.”
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare, Ms Adelanke Aremo, and Ms 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.
“The lack of transparency and accountability in the spending of savings from the removal of subsidy on petrol and the resulting human costs would directly threaten fundamental human rights that the government has an obligation to protect.
“The Tinubu government has the legal obligations to address the effects of subsidy removal on the human rights of 137 million poor Nigerians, and to prevent and address some of the direst consequences that the removal may reap on human rights, especially given the disproportionate impact on these Nigerians.
“The removal of subsidy on petrol continues to negatively and disproportionately affect poor Nigerians, undermining their right to adequate standard of living.
“Many years of allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the spending of public funds and entrenched impunity of perpetrators have undermined public trust and confidence in governments at all levels.
“The Freedom of Information Act, Section 39 of the Nigerian Constitution, article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantee to everyone the right to information, including the details of how the N400bn and other savings from the removal of subsidy on petrol would be spent.
“By the combined reading of the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution, the Freedom of Information Act, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, there are transparency obligations imposed on the government to widely publish the details of how the N400bn and other savings from the removal of subsidy on petrol are spent.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
Join the conversation
Support Ripples Nigeria, hold up solutions journalism
Balanced, fearless journalism driven by data comes at huge financial costs.
As a media platform, we hold leadership accountable and will not trade the right to press freedom and free speech for a piece of cake.
If you like what we do, and are ready to uphold solutions journalism, kindly donate to the Ripples Nigeria cause.
Your support would help to ensure that citizens and institutions continue to have free access to credible and reliable information for societal development.
INVESTIGATION: UBEC mum as N80m Kebbi secondary school lab equipment still undelivered since 2020
“Our laboratories are not conducive for learning; the termites have destroyed most of these laboratories, and there is not enough...
In Niger, communities suffer as multi-billion naira Auna Dam project remains uncompleted despite 38 years of investments
In Niger State, the over 20 communities around Auna River have had their hopes for fresh water, electricity supply and...
INVESTIGATION: Years after, 15km Eleme-Onne end of East-West Road remains death-trap despite billions released
In this report, ARINZE CHIJIOKE chronicles the sufferings of road users on the 15km Eleme-Onne end of the East-West Road...
Gaza attacks intensify as 12 Thais, 10 Nepalese killed in Israel
The current violence in Israel has claimed the lives of at least 12 Thai people and 10 Nepalese individuals. Eight...
INVESTIGATION: Poorly executed classroom projects force children out of school in Niger State
Once a vibrant hub of learning for pupils, Kodo Primary School now resonates a stark contrast to its former days...