Court orders Buhari govt to account for $460m Chinese loan

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The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has been ordered to “account for the spending of $460 million Chinese loan to fund the failed Abuja Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) project” by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.

The Court further ordered the current administration to “publish the total amount of money paid to Chinese and local companies and contractors and specific details of the names of the companies and contractors and status of the implementation of the project.”

The order was issued last week by Hon. Justice Emeka Nwite during his ruling in the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)’s FHC/ABJ/CS/1447/2019 Freedom of Information lawsuit.

The lawsuit was brought about by Zainab Ahmed, the minister of finance, who stated in 2019 that “Nigeria was servicing the loan” and that she had “no explanations on the status of the project.”

According to reports, she said, “We are servicing the loan. Concerning the CCTV project’s status, I am unaware.

Nwite concluded that there was “a reasonable cause of action against the government” and agreed with SERAP in this regard. It is in the best interest of the general public to account for how the $460 million Chinese loan was used. Rejecting SERAP’s request for judicial review of the government’s action will be detrimental for the Court.

The Minister of Finance, who is in charge of the nation’s finances, “cannot by any stretch of the imagination be oblivious to the amount of money paid to the contractors for the Abuja CCTV contract and the money meant for the construction of the Headquarters of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB),” he added.

In addition, Justice Nwite commanded the government “to provide the details clarifying whether the sum of N1.5 billion Naira paid for the failed contract meant to construct the headquarters of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) was part of another loan obtained from China.”

The judgment of Justice Nwite stated, in part, that SERAP’s main goals were to advance human rights, transparency, and accountability as well as fight corruption in Nigeria.

“I am of the humble opinion that there is a reasonable cause of action against the government [through the Minister of Finance], and I so hold that SERAP has made out a case to be entitled to the reliefs sought,” the plaintiff said.

“The law is well established that when a document or letter is sent by mail, it is presumed to have been delivered,”

 

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