In 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari requested and received a loan of N9.7 trillion from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, of which the details of the spendings are unknown to the public.
For this reason, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has recently taken the case to court to demand that President Buhari releases information on the expenditures made from the overdrafts obtained.
Also included in the suit as respondents are the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed; and the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele.
The Group is seeking a court order compelling those, as mentioned earlier, to explain the projects to the state on which overdrafts have been spent, including repayments made to date.
SERAP charged the president to clarify whether the N9.7 trillion overdraft reportedly obtained from the CBN is within the five-per cent limit of the actual revenue of the government for 2020.
SERAP Vs Buhari
Meanwhile, on the suit against president Buhari, no date has been fixed for hearing the case filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Adelanke Aremo.
The suit followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information request to President Buhari, stating that: “Disclosing details of overdrafts and repayments would enable Nigerians to hold the government to account for its fiscal management and ensure that public funds are not mismanaged or diverted.”
According to the document from SERAP, suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/559/2021, filed last week at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP is also seeking an order directing and compelling President Buhari to disclose details of overdrafts taken from the CBN by successive governments between 1999 and 2015.
The Group argued that secrecy and the lack of public scrutiny of the details of CBN overdrafts and repayments are contrary to the public interest, the common good, the country’s international legal obligations, and a fundamental breach of constitutional oath of office.