‘Exclusion of South East in $22.7b loan unconstitutional’
A legal practitioner, Chief Aloy Ejimakor has declared as unconstitutional the alleged spending format of the recent $22.7 billion foreign loan, which the senate recently approved for Nigeria.
Ejimakor in his reaction told The Guardian that going by the several credible media reports, it is illegal for the Southeast to be excluded from the proceeds or the spending plan proposed for the $22.7 billion foreign loan.
He said: “It is mischievous to suggest that the loan was approved for the Federal Government. It is not. Instead, the loan was, as a matter of law, approved for Nigeria or the Federation of Nigeria and the proceeds must go to the Federation Account, not the account of Federal Government.
“If it is the Senate that is characterising the proceeds of this loan as belonging to the Federal Government alone, that too is unconstitutional. It is not the Senate of the Federal Government but a Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or of the Federation.”
He argued that it would be the resources of Nigeria or that of the federation, particularly oil, of which a substantial portion it comes from the Southeast that would be used in repaying the loan.
According to him, whether it is a loan or not, the $22.7 billion should count as revenue (or proceeds) accruing to the Federation of Nigeria, not the Federal Government of Nigeria, which is merely a tier of the three tiers constituting the Federation of Nigeria. The states and the local governments, he said are the other two tiers and cannot be excluded from the till.
Ejimakor posited that Section 162(1) of the Constitution provides that “the Federation shall maintain a special account to be called “the Federation Account” into which shall be paid all revenues collected by the Government of the Federation, except the proceeds from the personal income tax of the personnel of the armed forces of the Federation, the Nigeria Police Force, the Ministry or department of government charged with responsibility for Foreign Affairs and the residents of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja”.
The lawyer pointed out that from the above, loans are not one of the ‘proceeds’ exempted from the Federation account and that to be sure, the same Constitution defined “revenue” at Section 162(10) by stating that “For the purpose of subsection (1) of this section, “revenue” means any income or return accruing to or derived by the Government of the Federation from Any Source and includes- (a) Any Receipt , however described, arising from the operation of any law…”.
He added that as can easily be gleaned from the plain texts of above provisions, ‘loans’ could comfortably fall under the category of ‘any source’ or ‘any receipt’, howsoever described.