The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Bola Tinubu for his failure to investigate allegation that about USD$2.1 billion and N3.1 trillion of oil revenues budgeted as fuel subsidy payments went missing and unaccounted for between 2016 and 2019.
The suit followed allegations documented by the Auditor-General of the Federation in the 2016 and 2019 annual reports that the public funds are missing.
This was made known by Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP Deputy Director in a statement made public on Sunday.
In the suit number FHC/L/CS/1107/23 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Lagos, SERAP is seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Tinubu to promptly probe allegations that USD$2.1 billion and N3.1 trillion public funds are missing and unaccounted for between 2016 and 2019.”
SERAP is also seeking: “an order of mandamus to compel President Tinubu to direct the anti-corruption agencies to promptly probe fuel subsidy payments made by governments since the return of democracy in 1999, name and shame and prosecute suspected perpetrators, and to recover any proceeds of crimes.”
SERAP is also seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Tinubu to use any recovered proceeds of crime as palliatives to address the impact of the subsidy removal on poor Nigerians, and to put in place mechanisms for transparency and accountability in the oil sector.”
In the suit, SERAP is arguing that: “The allegations that US$2.1 billion and N3.1 trillion of public funds are missing and unaccounted amount to a fundamental breach of national anticorruption laws and the country’s international obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.”
SERAP is also arguing that, “The Tinubu government has constitutional and international legal obligations to get to the bottom of these allegations and ensure accountability for these serious crimes against the Nigerian people.”
According to SERAP, “Directing and compelling President Tinubu to promptly probe, name and shame and bring to justice the perpetrators and to recover any missing public funds would advance the right of Nigerians to restitution, compensation and guarantee of non-repetition.”
SERAP is further arguing that, “Allegations of corruption in fuel subsidy payments suggest that the poor have rarely benefited from the use and management of the payments.”
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Oluwadare, Ms Adelanke Aremo, Ms Valentina Adegoke, and Ayomide Johnson, reads in part: “There will be no economic growth or sustainability without accountability for the human rights crimes.
“Poor and socio-economically vulnerable Nigerians should not be made to continue to pay the price for the stealing of the country’s oil wealth while state and non-state actors pocket public funds.
“Investigating and prosecuting the allegations, and recovering any missing public funds would serve the public interest, ensure justice and accountability, and end the entrenched impunity of perpetrators”.
No date has been fixed for hearing on the suit.