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$460m Abuja CCTV: SERAP wins suit to compel FG to disclose details of project

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has won the latest round of the legal battle compelling the Federal Government, to disclose the details of the $460 million loan obtained in 2010 from China to fund the failed Abuja Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) project.

The details will include the names of contractors who collected money, and why Nigeria is re-paying the loan.

Justice Anwuri Ichegbuo Chikere, of the Federal High Court, Abuja, last week granted leave clearing the way for SERAP to advance its case to compel Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, to disclose details of payment of the $460 Chinese loan to contractors, and whether the sum of N1.5 billion paid in 2010 for the failed contract to construct the headquarters of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) was part of another Chinese loan.

“After going through the Application filed by SERAP supported by 7 paragraphs Affidavit, with supporting exhibits, statement of facts, and verifying affidavits and written address in support, leave is hereby granted for SERAP to pursue its suit,” Justice Chikere, in granting leave, stated.

Justice Chikere granted the order following the argument in court on an exparte motion by SERAP’s counsel, Ms Atinuke Adejuyigbe and Mr Opeyemi Owolabi.

The suit was adjourned to Monday, 24th February, 2020, for hearing of the substantive suit.

SERAP had in the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1447/2019 filed last month sought: “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus to direct and/or compel the Minister of Finance to disclose the details of local companies and Chinese contractors that have received funds from the $460 million loan for the finance of the failed Abuja CCTV project as well as details of the status of implementation of the project.”

The suit followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information (FoI) request dated 25 October 2019, to Mrs Ahmed, expressing: “concern that Nigerians are being made to pay for the Chinese loans for failed and abandoned projects, and for which they have not benefited in any way, shape or form.”

The suit read in part: “Transparency in the spending of Chinese loans is good for everyone, as this would help to increase the effectiveness, legitimacy, and contribution of the loans to the development of public goods and services, and the general public interests.”

“Democracy cannot flourish if governments operate in secrecy. The citizens are entitled to know how the commonwealth is being utilized, managed and administered in a democratic setting.”

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