SERAP Sues Governors, Wike ‘Over Failure To Account For Missing N40 Trillion Local Council Allocations’


The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against Nigerian governors and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Mr Nyesom Wike.

The suit is “over their failure to account for the alleged missing N40 trillion federal allocations meant for local governments in the states and the FCT”.

The suit followed the revelations by former president Muhammadu Buhari who in December 2022 stated, “If the money from the Federation Account to the state is about N100m, N50m will be sent to the chairman but he will sign that he received N100 million. The chairman will pocket the balance and share it.”

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/231/2024 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP is asking the court to “direct and compel the governors to publish details of LGA allocations and actual disbursement of the allocations to local governments in their respective states from 1999 to date.”

SERAP is also asking the court to “compel and direct Mr Wike to publish details of federal allocations meant for the Area Councils in the FCT and the actual disbursement of the allocations to the Area Councils in the FCT from 1999 to date.”

In the suit, SERAP argues thus: “The Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the Freedom of Information Act, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights impose transparency obligations on the governors and Mr Wike to publish the details of LGA allocations and actual disbursement in their states and the FCT.

“State governors and Mr Wike cannot hide under the excuse that the Freedom of Information Act is not applicable to their states and the FCT. The legal obligations to publish the information sought are also imposed by the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare, Kehinde Oyewumi and Andrew Nwankwo, read in part: “Opacity in the amounts of federal allocations actually disbursed to local governments in the states and FCT has continued to have negative impacts on the fundamental interests of the citizens.”

It said, “The governors and Mr Wike have a legal responsibility to promote transparency and accountability in the actual disbursement and spending of federal allocations meant for local government areas in the states and FCT and to ensure that the allocations are dully and fully disbursed to the local governments.

“Despite the country’s enormous oil wealth, ordinary Nigerians have derived very little benefit from oil money primarily because of widespread grand corruption, and the culture of impunity of perpetrators.

“Combating the corruption epidemic in the spending of federal allocations meant for local government areas in the states and FCT would alleviate poverty, improve access of Nigerians to basic public goods, and enhance the ability of the local governments to effectively and efficiently discharge their constitutional and statutory responsibilities.

“According to our information, the 36 states in Nigeria and the federal capital territory, Abuja, have collected over N40 trillion federal allocations meant for the 774 local governments areas in the country and FCT.

 

“The Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) disbursed to states N225.21 billion federal allocations meant for local governments in November 2023 alone. States also collected N258,810,449,711.47 federal allocations meant for local government areas in December 2023.

“However, there is opacity in the actual disbursement of federal allocations to the local government areas in the states and FCT. States and the FCT have over the years failed and/or refused to disclose the portion of federal allocations that are disbursed to local governments.

“Former president Muhammadu Buhari recently alleged that state governors routinely pocket or divert federal allocations meant for local governments areas in their states.”



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