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Account for trillions of FAAC allocations or face legal action, SERAP tells 36 governors, Wike

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has filed a lawsuit against Nigeria’s 36 governors and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nyesom Wike “over their failure to account for the spending of trillions of FAAC allocations collected by their states and the FCT since 1999.”

 

The suit is coming on heels of reports that the Federation Account Allocation Committee, FAAC, disbursed N1.123 trillion to the federal, state, and local governments for March 2024. They shared N1.208 trillion in April. States collected N398.689 billion in March while they collected N403.403 billion in April.

 

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/666/2024 filed on Friday at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP is asking the court to “direct and compel the governors and Wike to publish spending details of the FAAC allocations collected by their states and the FCT since 1999 including the list and locations of projects executed with the money.”

 

SERAP is also asking the court to “compel the governors and Wike to invite the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, to probe any allegations of corruption linked to the allocations and to monitor how the money is spent.”

 

SERAP is arguing that, “Nigerians ought to know in what manner public funds including FAAC allocations, are spent by the governors and FCT minister.”

 

According to SERAP, “Opacity in the spending of the FAAC allocations collected by the governors and Mr Wike would continue to have negative impacts on the fundamental interests of the citizens.”

 

SERAP is also arguing that, “trillions of FAAC allocations received by Nigeria’s 36 states and the FCT have allegedly gone down the drain. The resulting human costs directly threaten the human rights of socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians.”

 

SERAP is also arguing that, “Without the information on the spending details of the FAAC allocations, Nigerians cannot follow the actions of their states and the FCT and they cannot properly fulfill their responsibilities as citizens.”

 

SERAP is also arguing that, “Directing and compelling the governors and FCT minister to provide the information sought and widely publish the spending details of the FAAC allocations collected by them would serve legitimate public interests.”

 

According to SERAP, “The failure by the governors and the FCT ministers to account for the spending of the FAAC allocations collected by them is entirely inconsistent and incompatible with the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] and the country’s international anti-corruption obligations.”

 

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare, Kehinde Oyewumi and Andrew Nwankwo, read in part: “States and the FCT should be guided by transparency and accountability principles and proactively account for the spending of the FAAC allocations collected by them.

 

 

“Secrecy in the spending of FAAC allocations collected by the governors and the FCT minister also denies Nigerians the right to know how public funds are spent. Transparency in the spending would allow them to retain control over their government.

 

 

“The governors and FCT minister have a legal obligation to provide the information sought including the list of specific projects completed with the FAAC allocations collected, the locations of any such projects and completion reports of the projects.

 

“The information sought should also include details of the salaries and pensions paid from the FAAC allocations collected, as well as the details of projects executed on hospitals and schools with the FAAC allocations.

 

“Despite the increased FAAC allocations to states and FCT, millions of residents in several states and the FCT continue to face extreme poverty and lack access to basic public goods and services.

 

“The reported removal of petrol subsidy and the floating of the exchange rate by the Federal Government has translated into increased FAAC allocations to states and the FCT. However, there is no corresponding improvement in the security and welfare of millions of Nigerians.

 

“FAAC allocations received by the states and the FCT are reportedly characterised by mismanagement, diversion of funds, and abandoned projects. FAAC allocations have also been allegedly spent for other purposes such as election campaigns and political patronage.

 

“Publishing the documents on the spending of FAAC allocations by the states and the FCT would promote transparency, accountability, and reduce the risks of corruption in the spending of the funds.

 

“Publishing the documents would also enable Nigerians to meaningfully engage in the implementation of projects executed with the FAAC allocations collected.

 

“The report that some 140 million Nigerians are poor suggests corruption and mismanagement in the spending of trillions of naira in FAAC allocations collected by the states and the FCT.

 

“According to our information, the Federation Account Allocation Committee, FAAC, disbursed N1.123 trillion to the federal, state and local governments for March 2024.

 

“State governments got N398.689 billion while local government councils got N288.688 billion. The mineral-producing states received an additional N90.124 billion (13% of mineral revenue). In February, states collected N336 billion.

 

“According to the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), the federal, states and local governments shared N10.143 trillion from the Federation Account as statutory revenue allocations in 2023, with states collecting N3.585 trillion.

 

“Section 15(5) of the Nigerian Constitution requires public institutions to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.

 

“Section 16(2) of the Nigerian Constitution further provides that, ‘the material resources of the nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good.’

 

“Section 13 of the Nigerian Constitution imposes clear responsibility on the states and FCT to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of Chapter 2 of the constitution

 

“Nigeria has also made legally binding commitments under the UN Convention against Corruption to ensure accountability in the management of public resources.

 

“Nigerians are entitled to the right to receive information without any interference or distortion, and the enjoyment of this right should be based on the principle of maximum disclosure, and a presumption that all information is accessible subject only to a narrow system of exceptions.

 

“The Freedom of Information Act, Section 39 of the Nigerian Constitution, article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantee to everyone the right to information, including the documents on the spending of FAAC allocations.

 

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

 

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