A lawsuit has been filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) against President Bola Tinubu over the government’s failure to probe allegations of some missing funds.
The organisation lamented the administration’s “failure to probe the grim allegations that over US$15 billion oil revenues, and N200 billion budgeted to repair the refineries in Nigeria are missing and unaccounted for between 2020 and 2021.”
The allegations are contained in the 2021 report by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).
In the suit numbered FHC/L/CS/2334/2023 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Lagos, SERAP is seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Tinubu to probe the allegations that US$15bn of oil revenue, and N200bn budgeted to repair and maintain the refineries in Nigeria are missing and unaccounted for.”
SERAP is also seeking “an order of mandamus to compel President Tinubu to direct appropriate anti-corruption agencies to probe allegations of corruption involving the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited, Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NPDC) and State Owned Enterprises (SOE).”
SERAP is also seeking “an order of mandamus to compel President Tinubu to use any recovered proceeds of corruption to enhance the well-being of Nigerians.”
It argued in the suit, “There is a legitimate public interest in ensuring justice and accountability for these serious allegations. Granting the reliefs sought would end the impunity of perpetrators and ensure justice for victims of corruption.
“The allegations of corruption documented by NEITI undermine economic development of the country, trap the majority of Nigerians in poverty and deprive them of opportunities.”
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare, Andrew Nwankwo, and Ms Valentina Adegoke, read in part: “The Tinubu government has a constitutional duty to ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of the country’s oil wealth.”
It also read, “According to the 2021 report by NEITI, government agencies including the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NNPC) and the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NPDC) failed to remit $13.591 million and $8.251 billion to the public treasury.
“The NNPC and NPDC failed to remit over 70% of these public funds. NEITI wants both the NNPC and NPDC to be investigated, and for the missing public funds to be fully recovered.
“The report also shows that in 2021, the State Owned Enterprises (SOE) and its subsidiaries (the NNPC Group) reportedly spent US$6.931billion on behalf of the Federal Government but without appropriation by the National Assembly. The money may be missing.
“The NNPC also reportedly obtained a loan of $3 billion in 2012 purportedly to settle subsidy payments due to petroleum product marketers but there is no disclosure of the details of the loan, subsidy and the beneficiaries of the payments.
“The report also shows that N9.73 billion was paid to the NNPC as pipeline transportation revenue earned from Joint Venture operations but the money was neither remitted to the Federation nor properly accounted for. The NPDC in 2021 also failed to remit $7.61 million realized from the sale of crude oil.
“The report documents that about N200 billion was spent on ‘refineries rehabilitation’ between 2020 and 2021 but ‘none of the refineries was operational in 2021 despite the spending.’ NEITI wants the spending to be investigated, as the money may be missing.”
Joined in the suit as Respondent is Mr Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.