Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has sued the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, over her alleged failure to release the names of the contractors who handled the failed $460m Abuja Closed-Circuit Television project.
In the suit filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja, SERAP also complained that Ahmed shunned its request for documents to know how much of the $460m Chinese loan was spent on the failed CCTV project and why government has continued to repay the loan.
The group is, in the suit, seeking an order of mandamus to compel Ahmed to make the requested information and documents available to it.
SERAP prayed the court for “an order of mandamus to direct and compel the Minister of Finance to disclose whether the sum of N1.5bn paid in 2010 for the failed project meant to construct the headquarters of the Code of Conduct Bureau was part of another loan obtained from China, and to clarify further whether the sum of N1.5bn mobilsation fee for the construction of the Headquarters of the CCB in Abuja was part of another loan from China.”
In a statement on Sunday by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oludare, SERAP said it resorted to filing the suit after the finance minister allegedly shunned its October 25, 2019 Freedom of Information request.
Oludare said SERAP was concerned that “Nigerians are being made to pay for the Chinese loans for failed and abandoned projects, and for which they have not benefited in any way, shape or form.”
The group said, “Transparency in the spending of Chinese loans is good for everyone, as this would help to increase the effectiveness, legitimacy, and contribution of the loans to the development of public goods and services, and the general public interests.”
“The information being requested does not come within the purview of the types of information exempted from disclosure under the Act. The respondent has no legally justifiable reason for refusing to provide SERAP with the information requested.”
“Democracy cannot flourish if governments operate in secrecy. The citizens are entitled to know how the commonwealth is being utilized, managed and administered in a democratic setting.”