The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has dragged the federal government to court, seeking details of the N729bn payment to 24.3 million poor Nigerians.
Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP’s deputy director, disclosed this in a statement issued on Sunday.
Oluwadare said the suit with the number FHC/L/CS/853/2021 was filed at the Federal High Court in Lagos.
He stated that the group is seeking “an order directing and compelling the Federal Government to clarify whether the proposed payment to poor Nigerians is part of the ₦5.6 trillion budget deficits”.
SERAP is asking the court “to compel the Federal Government to disclose details of proposed payments of ₦729bn to 24.3 million poor Nigerians, including the mechanisms and logistics for the payments, list of beneficiaries, and how they have been selected, and whether the payments will be made in cash or through Bank Verification Numbers or other means”.
The suit followed the group’s Freedom of Information (FoI) request to the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouk.
It is asking the minister to disclose “the details of beneficiaries and selection criteria, as well as the payment plan [which] would promote transparency and accountability, and remove the risks of mismanagement and diversion of public funds”.
“Providing support and assistance to poor Nigerians is a human rights obligation but the programme to spend five percent of the 2021 budget, which is mostly based on deficit and borrowing, requires anti-corruption safeguards to ensure the payments go directly to the intended beneficiaries, and that public funds are not mismanaged or diverted,” the statement added.
“The Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended], UN Convention against Corruption, and African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption to which Nigeria is a state, require the government to set the highest standards of transparency, accountability and probity in programmes that it oversees.
“The government has a responsibility to ensure that these requirements and other anti-corruption controls are fully implemented and monitored and that the payments are justified in light of the huge budget deficit and borrowing, and whether there are better ways to spend N729bn to support poor Nigerians.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.