Monday, September 21, 2020

SERAP Sues Buhari over Nigeria’s Growing Debts

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SERAP Sues buhari over Nigeria’s Growing Debts

SERAP 5ominds 5ominds

The Socio Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Abuja, asking it to order President Muhammadu buhari publish details of loans that have been obtained by the government since May 2015; the interest rate, the total amount of debts; and details of the projects on which the loans have been spent.

The suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/785/2020 filed last week is seeking an order of mandamus to compel President buhari to tell Nigerians the countries and bodies that have given the loans, specific repayment conditions, and whether any public officers solicited and/or received bribes.

“We’ve asked the Federal High Court, Abuja to order President buhari to publish details of loans that have been obtained by the government since May 2015; the interest rate, the total amount of debts; and details of the projects on which the loans have been spent.

“The suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/785/2020 filed last week is seeking an order of mandamus to compel President buhari to tell Nigerians the countries and bodies that have given the loans, specific repayment conditions, and whether any public officers solicited and/or received bribes.

“The suit read in part: “Transparency would ensure that the loans are not diverted to private pockets, increase public trust that these loans would be used to benefit Nigerians, provide good value for money, and reassure Nigeria’s creditors.

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“This suit is permitted under the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended), the Freedom of Information Act; the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party,” SERAP said.

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This development comes as the House of Representatives last Tuesday raised the alarm over clauses in Article 8(1) of the commercial loan agreement signed between Nigeria and Export-Import Bank of China which it says “wills the sovereignty of Nigeria” in the $400 million loan for the Nigeria National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Infrastructure Backbone Phase II Project, signed in 2018.

During an investigative hearing into some of the agreements signed between Nigeria and China, last Tuesday, the Chairman, House Committee on Treaties and Agreements, Ossai Nicholas Ossai questioned the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi over the controversial clause.

In the agreement which was signed by Federal Ministry of Finance (Borrower) on behalf of Nigeria and the Export-Import Bank of China (Lender) on 5th September, 2018, Article 8(1) of the agreement, provides that: “The Borrower hereby irrevocably waives any immunity on the grounds of sovereign or otherwise for itself or its property in connection with any arbitration proceeding pursuant to Article 8(5), thereof with the enforcement of any arbitral award pursuant thereto, except for the military assets and diplomatic assets.”

Ossai then summoned the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Usman; Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Ali Isa Pantami and Director-General of Debt Management Office (DMO), Ms Patience Oniha, to appear before the Committee on August 17, 2020 with all relevant documents on the controversial agreements.

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