Court Orders Buhari’s Minister To Account For N729bn Payment To Poor Nigerians | MarvelTvUpdates

Court Orders Buhari’s Minister To Account For N729bn Payment To Poor Nigerians | MarvelTvUpdates

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development, Sadia Umar-Farouk, to account for payments of N729bn to 24.3 million poor Nigerians for six months.

The court also ordered the former minister to provide the list and details of the beneficiaries who received the payments, the number of states covered and the payments per state.

The judgment was delivered last month by Hon. Justice Deinde Isaac Dipeolu following a Freedom of Information suit number: FHC/L/CS/853/2021, brought by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

This was disclosed in a statement by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, who noted that the certified true copy of the judgment was obtained last Friday.

He stated that in his judgment, Justice Dipeolu held that, “The former minister is compelled by the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act to give information to any person including SERAP. I therefore grant an order of mandamus directing and compelling the minister to provide the spending details of N729 billion to 24.3 million poor Nigerians in 2021.”

Justice Dipeolu ordered the minister to “provide SERAP with details of how the beneficiaries have been selected and the mechanisms for the payments to the beneficiaries.”

The judge also ordered the minister to “explain the rationale for paying N5,000 to 24.3 million poor Nigerians, which translates to five percent of Nigeria’s budget of N13.6 trillion for 2021.”

Justice Dipeolu also stated that, “The minister did not give any reason for the refusal to disclose the details sought by SERAP. SERAP has reeled out the relevant sections of the Freedom of Information Act 2011 that the minister contravened and has in line with sections 20 and 25(1) of the Act prayed this Court for an order of mandamus to direct and compel the minister to provide the information sought.”

The judge dismissed the objections raised by the minister’s counsel and upheld SERAP’s arguments. Consequently, the court entered judgment in favour of SERAP against the minister.

Justice Dipeolu’s judgment, dated 27 June, 2024, read in part: “where a statute clearly provides for a particular act to be done or performed in a particular way, failure to perform the act as provided will not only be interpreted as a delinquent conduct but will be interpreted as not complying with the statutory provision.”

“The minister filed a preliminary objection to this suit dated the 4th of October 2022 and a counter-affidavit to SERAP’s motion on notice. I will first deal with the minister’s preliminary objection because it bothers on the jurisdiction of this Court to entertain this suit.”

“The grounds upon which the preliminary objection was filed are: whether this suit is not incompetent having not been commenced within 30 days after SERAP’s request for information was deemed to have been denied.”

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