For alleged defiance of the Federal Government in publishing the details of the agreement it signed with the United States for the repatriation of $23 million stolen by the late maximum ruler, Gen. Sani Abacha, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has again slammed a suit against President Muhammadu Buhari.
Joined in the suit filed on September 23 at the Federal High Court, Abuja, as Respondent is the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Malam Abubakar Malami (SAN).
Filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers — Mr Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Atinuke Adejuyigbe — no date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
Persecondnews had reported that U.S. Government had in August 2022 signed an agreement with the Federal Government to repatriate $23 million Abacha loot to Nigeria in addition to the $311.7 million Abacha loot repatriated from the U.S. to Nigeria in 2020.
SERAP is asking the court among others to direct and compel President Buhari and Mr Abubakar Malami to release and widely publish copy of the agreement on the Abacha loot with the U.S.
A statement given to Persecondnews on Sunday said: SERAP wants the court to direct and compel President Buhari and Mr Abubakar Malami to publish details of the transparency and accountability mechanisms that have been put in place to ensure that the repatriated funds are not mismanaged, diverted or re-stolen.
“The Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s international obligations impose transparency obligations on the Federal Government to widely publish the agreement on the $23 million Abacha loot.
“Publishing a copy of the agreement with the U.S. would allow Nigerians to scrutinise it, and to monitor the spending of the repatriated loot to ensure that the money is not mismanaged, diverted or re-stolen.
“The repatriated $23 million Abacha loot is vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement. Substantial part of the estimated $5 billion returned Abacha loot since 1999 may have been mismanaged, diverted, or re-stolen, and in any case remain unaccounted for.
“Publishing a copy of the agreement would ensure that persons with public responsibilities are answerable to the people for the performance of their duties including the management of repatriated loot.
“The Nigerian Constitution, Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s international obligations rest on the principle that citizens should have access to information regarding their government’s activities.
“The Federal Government has a responsibility to ensure transparency and accountability in how any repatriated stolen funds are spent, to reduce vulnerability to corruption and mismanagement.”
SERAP also insisted that it is in the public interest, and the interest of justice to grant this application. Nigerians are entitled to their constitutionally and internationally recognized human right to information.
Hinging its action on the rights of Nigerians, SERAP stated: “The Freedom of Information Act, Section 39 of the Nigerian Constitution, Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantee everyone the right to information, including to a copy of the agreement on the repatriated $23 million Abacha loot.”