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SERAP quiz Nigerian govt to disclose details of N729bn paid to poor citizens, threatens court action

Buhari Sitted

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has instituted a lawsuit against the Federal Government at the Federal High Court in Lagos.

SERAP is seeking to “compel the Federal Government to disclose details of proposed payments of N729bn to 24.3 million poor Nigerians, including the mechanisms and logistics for the payments, list of beneficiaries, and how they have been selected, and whether the payments will be made in cash or through Bank Verification Numbers or other means.”

This was contained in a statement issued by the SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare on Sunday.

This came as a sequel to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to Ms Sadia Umar-Farouk, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development, stating that: “Disclosing the details of beneficiaries and selection criteria, as well as the payment plan, would promote transparency and accountability, and remove the risks of mismanagement and diversion of public funds.”

SERAP is also seeking “an order directing and compelling the Federal Government to explain the rationale for paying N5,000 to 24.3 million poor Nigerians for six months, which translates to five percent of the country’s budget of N13.6 trillion for 2021.”

Furthermore, the organisation wants to ensure that the programme which is five per cent of the 2021 budget is not mismanaged or diverted.

SERAP is also arguing that “The government has a responsibility to ensure that these requirements and other anti-corruption controls are fully implemented and monitored and that the payments are justified in light of the huge budget deficit and borrowing, and whether there are better ways to spend N729bn to support poor Nigerians.”

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