A civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has dragged the Federal Government to court over “alleged failure to release information and documents on the spending of recovered stolen funds.” According to a statement signed by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni
The suit filed last week at the Federal High Court Ikeja followed a Freedom of Information request to the Accountant General of the Federation dated 26 September 2011.
The motion exparte with suit number FHC/IKJ/CS/248/2011 was brought pursuant to section 20 of the Freedom of Information Act, and Order 34 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2009, and signed by Adetokunbo Mumuni.
The plaintiff is arguing that under the FOI Act, it has the right to request for or gain access to information which is in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution.
The suit is seeking an order “granting leave to the Plaintiff/Applicant to apply for judicial relief and to seek an order of mandamus directing and or compelling the Defendants/Respondents whether by themselves and/or their agents to disclose to and or make available to the Applicant the information requested as contained in a letter dated 26 September 2011 to the Accountant General of the Federation.”
According to the plaintiff, “the disclosure of the information requested will give the general public a true picture and a clear understanding of how the spending of recovered public stolen funds have impacted on the lives of the poor and indigent and other disadvantaged Nigerians.”
The organization is also seeking the following reliefs:
- A declaration that the failure and/or refusal of the Respondents to individually and/or collectively disclose detailed information about the spending of recovered stolen public funds since the return of civilian rule in 1999, and to publish widely such information, including on a dedicated website, amounts to a breach of the fundamental principles of transparency and accountability and violates Articles 9, 21 and 22 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act
- A declaration that by virtue of the provisions of Section 4 (a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, the 1st Defendant/Respondent is under a binding legal obligation to provide the Plaintiff/Applicant with up to date information on the spending of recovered stolen funds, including:
- Detailed information on the total amount of recovered stolen public assets that have so far been recovered by Nigeria
- The amount that has been spent from the recovered stolen public assets and the objects of such spending
- Details of projects on which recovered stolen public assets were spent
- An order of mandamus directing and or compelling the Defendants/Respondents to provide the Plaintiff/Applicant with up to date information on recovered stolen funds since the return of civilian rule in 1999.
No date has however been fixed for the hearing of the application.