SERAP files lawsuit against 36 governors over failure to account for N72bn subsidy palliative

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The 36 state governors of the nation have been sued by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has dragged the 36 state governors of the nation to court for “their failure to account for the spending of the N72 billion palliative collected from the Federal Government”.

SERAP’s suit also includes a prayer for details of the beneficiaries and the reliefs provided with the money.”

To mitigate the effects of the elimination of the fuel subsidy, the federal government recently distributed N2 billion to each state of the federation and the federal capital territory (FCT) out of the N5 billion scheduled palliative package.

In the suit number FHC/L/CS/1943/2023 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Lagos, SERAP is seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel each of the 36 state governors to account for the spending of the N2 billion palliative collected by the governors from the Federal Government.”

SERAP is seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel each of the 36 state governors to disclose details of the beneficiaries and the reliefs provided to the poorest and most vulnerable Nigerians with the money.”

SERAP is also seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel each of the 36 state governors to instruct the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to monitor the spending of fuel subsidy palliative collected by them.”

READ ALSO:SERAP sues Tinubu for not stopping former governors in his cabinet from collecting pension, gratuities

In the suit, SERAP is arguing that: “Government secrecy is fundamentally anti-democratic. Secrecy in the spending of the N72 billion collected by the 36 state governors would create distrust or suspicion of the government. The failure by the governors to account for the public funds is both legally and morally wrong.”

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Mrs Blessing Ogwuche, read in part: “It is in the public interest to direct and compel the 36 state governors to account for the spending of the N72 billion palliative and any subsequent disbursement of public funds to the states.”

“There is no democratic freedom without accountability and the basic postulate of accountability is that the people should have information about the functioning of the government.

“Compelling and directing the governors to account for the spending of the N72 billion would increase government transparency and enhance an open and democratic society.

“The constitutional principle of democracy provides a foundation for Nigerians’ right to know details about the spending of the N72 billion fuel subsidy palliative. Citizens’ right to know is crucial for the country’s democratic order.

“The effective operation of representative democracy depends on the people being able to scrutinise, discuss and contribute to government decision making, including on the fuel subsidy relief funds.

“The removal of subsidy on petrol continues to negatively and disproportionately affect the poor and socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians in several states, undermining their right to adequate standard of living.”

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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