133m poor Nigerians: SERAP sues Buhari over failure to probe spending on intervention programmes
Right group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari over “the failure to thoroughly, effectively and transparently investigate spending on all social safety-nets and poverty alleviation programmes and projects executed between 2015 and 2022.”
Joined in the suit, as respondent, is Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN).
A recent report by National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows that some 133 million Nigerians are poor. This is despite the government reportedly spending N500 billion yearly on social investment programmes. Half of all poor people in the country are children.
In the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/2357/2022, filed last Friday, at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP is asking the court to “direct and compel Buhari to thoroughly and transparently investigate spending on all social safety-nets and poverty alleviation programmes and projects executed between 2015 and 2022.”
SERAP is also asking the court to “direct and compel Buhari to ensure that suspected perpetrators of corruption and mismanagement of public funds meant to take care of the poor face prosecution, as appropriate, and any stolen public funds are recovered.”
In the suit, SERAP is arguing: “Nigerians have the right to be free from poverty. Allegations of corruption in social safety-nets and poverty alleviation programmes pose both direct and indirect threats to human rights, and contribute to extreme poverty in the country.”
SERAP is also arguing that, “Investigating the allegations of corruption in the spending on social safety-nets and poverty alleviation programmes and projects and recovering any stolen public funds would serve the public interest.”
According to SERAP, “the Federal Government has a legal responsibility to ensure transparency and accountability in how public funds are spent, to reduce vulnerability to corruption and mismanagement.”
SERAP is arguing that, “the government has legal obligations to effectively and progressively address and combat extreme poverty as a matter of human rights.”
The suit, filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare, Kehinde Oyewumi and Blessing Ogwuche, reads in part: “The failure to address extreme poverty has resulted in high levels of inequality, and serious violations of economic and social rights of socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians.
“The NBS report suggests a grave violation of the public trust and the lack of political will by the government to uphold the country’s constitutional and international human rights obligations.
“The consequences of corruption are felt by citizens on a daily basis. Corruption exposes them to additional costs to pay for health, education and administrative services.”
“Corruption undermines economic development of the country, trapping the majority of Nigerians in poverty and depriving them of employment opportunities.”
No date has been fixed for hearing of the suit.