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Court Demands Ex-Minister to Account for N729Billion Aid

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Court Demands Ex-Minister to Account for N729Billion Aid

(iexclusivenews) – In a landmark ruling that underscores the importance of government accountability, a Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development, Ms Sadia Umar-Farouk, to provide a detailed account of N729 billion in payments allegedly made to 24.3 million poor Nigerians over a six-month period.

The Court’s Ruling: A Victory for Transparency

Hon. Justice Deinde Isaac Dipeolu delivered the judgment last month, following a Freedom of Information suit brought by the Socio-Economic Rights And Accountability Project (SERAP).

The ruling represents a significant step towards ensuring transparency in the management of public funds.

Key Points of the Judgment:

  1. The former minister is compelled to provide spending details of the N729 billion.

  2. A list and details of beneficiaries must be disclosed.

  3. The number of states covered and payments per state should be revealed.

  4. An explanation for the selection process of beneficiaries is required.

  5. The rationale behind the N5,000 payment to each beneficiary must be clarified.

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Implications of the Ruling

This court order has far-reaching implications for government accountability in Nigeria.

It sets a precedent for future cases and emphasizes the importance of transparency in public spending.

Legal Basis and Objections:

The judgment was based on the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, which requires public officials to provide information upon request.

The court dismissed objections raised by the minister’s counsel, further strengthening the case for transparency.

SERAP’s Response:

Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP’s deputy director, hailed the judgment as “a victory for transparency and accountability in the spending of public funds.”

Prominent lawyer Femi Falana, SAN, praised SERAP’s efforts, calling it “one of the most patriotic public interest litigation ever undertaken in Nigeria.”

SERAP has urged President Bola Tinubu to demonstrate commitment to the rule of law by ensuring immediate compliance with the court’s judgment.

This includes directing the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and the Attorney General’s office to release the required information.

What You Should Know

This ruling marks a significant milestone in the fight for government accountability in Nigeria.

It underscores the power of civil society organizations in holding public officials accountable and the crucial role of the judiciary in upholding transparency.

As the nation awaits the government’s response, this case serves as a reminder of the importance of openness in the management of public resources.

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