The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has dragged President Muhammadu Buhari to court over his failure to probe the purported disappearance of ₦3,836,685,213.13 meant for the Federal Ministry of Health.
This was made known in a statement issued by Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP’s Deputy Director, on Sunday.
The civil society organisation said the money was meant for teaching hospitals, medical centres, and National Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), according to a recently released 2018 audited report by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.
The lawsuit, which was filed last Friday by SERAP lawyers: Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi, comes on the back of an industrial action embarked upon by resident doctors over unpaid salaries, upward review of hazard allowances, and COVID-19 care incentives, which SERAP said has denied millions of poor Nigerians access to medical treatment.
It also comes in the wake of the controversy over President Buhari’s travel to London for a “routine” medical check-up.
In the suit with number FHC/ABJ/CS/433/2021, filed before Federal High Court in Abuja, SERAP is seeking: “an order of mandamus directing and compelling President Buhari to investigate alleged missing N3.8bn health funds, and to promptly investigate the extent and patterns of widespread corruption in the Federal Ministry of Health, teaching hospitals, medical centres and NAFDAC”.
The statement read: “Corruption in the health sector exacerbates inequality in already unequal and unfair political, social, and economic environments, and produces a ‘cash and carry’ health care system based on one’s ability to pay for care or one’s political position.”
The group added, “Transparency and accountability in the management of health funds are essential for promoting access of people living in poverty to physical and mental healthcare, satisfactory health conditions, equality and non-discrimination, development, as well as good governance and the rule of law.
“The failure to investigate the alleged missing health funds, bring suspected perpetrators to justice, and recover any missing public funds has exposed millions of poor Nigerians to serious health risks, amounting to violations of constitutional and international human rights and anti-corruption obligations.”
SERAP is arguing that the failure to investigate the alleged missing health funds, bring suspected perpetrators to justice, and to recover any missing public funds has exposed millions of poor Nigerians to serious health risks, violating their constitutional and international human rights.
Joined in the suit as respondents are Abubakar Malami, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation; and Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health.