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SERAP Sues Nigerian Government and Central Bank Over COVID-19 Donations

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked a Federal Capital Territory Federal High Court to compel the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to publish the names of those who had benefitted from the COVID-19 palliatives.

SERAP filed the lawsuit through its lawyer Kolawole Oluwadare and Joke Fekumo.

“By a combined reading of the FoI Act and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ms Umar-Farouk and Mr Emefiele ought to be directed and compelled to make public details of those that have benefited from COVID-19 funds and donations.”

SERAP asked the government and the central bank to “publicly identify and name Nigerians who have so far benefited from any cash payments, cash transfers, food distribution and other reliefs and palliatives during the lockdown in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun states because of COVID-19.”

SERAP said that the order was needed to ensure transparency and to establish whether the vulnerable have actually benefitted from it.

The statement read in part: “Both the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development, and the CBN governor have a legal duty to ensure that information on the details of those who have so far benefited from COVID-19 funds and donations is released to SERAP upon requests, and that the information is widely published. Yet, both have completely ignored SERAP’s requests.”

“SERAP and indeed the general public have a legitimate interest in ascertaining and scrutinizing the veracity of the claims of how the COVID-19 funds and donations have been spent, and to know that the intended beneficiaries actually received any benefits.”

“Ms Umar-Farouk and Mr Emefiele also ought to be directed and compelled to make public details of any plan to provide social and economic reliefs to the over 80 million of the country’s poorest and the most vulnerable people, beyond the 11 million targeted by the Federal Government across 35 states.”

“Democracy cannot flourish in the absence of citizens’ access to information, no matter how much open discussion and debate is allowed. This suit would ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of COVID-19 money and donations.”

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