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Court Orders Ex-Minister to Account for N729bn Payments to Poor Nigerians

Court Orders Ex-Minister to Account for N729bn Payments to Poor Nigerians

A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered Ms Sadia Umar-Farouk, the former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development, to provide detailed information on the N729 billion paid to 24.3 million poor Nigerians over a six-month period.

The judgement of the court was in response to a Freedom of Information suit brought by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)  and was delivered by Justice Deinde Isaac Dipeolu,. The organization sought to compel the minister to disclose the spending details of the funds.

According to the judgment, the court ordered the minister to provide a list and details of beneficiaries who received the payments, as well as the number of states covered and payments per state. The minister was also directed to explain the rationale for paying N5,000 to each of the 24.3 million poor Nigerians, which translates to five percent of Nigeria’s budget for 2021.

The court dismissed the minister’s objections, including a preliminary objection that the suit was statute-barred. Justice Dipeolu ruled that SERAP had complied with section 20 of the Freedom of Information Act by filing the suit within 30 days after its request for information was deemed denied.

The judgment is seen as a significant victory for transparency and accountability in the management of public funds. SERAP’s deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, described it as a “ground-breaking” decision that will promote public interest litigation in Nigeria.

The organization has called on President Bola Tinubu’s administration to implement the judgment by directing the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and other relevant authorities to release the spending details of the N729 billion.

The judgment is expected to set a precedent for transparency in government spending and may lead to more public interest litigation in Nigeria.


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