The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit, asking the court “to compel President Muhammadu Buhari to disclose spending details of the overdrafts and loans obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) since May 29, 2015 including the projects on which the overdrafts have been spent, and repayments of all overdrafts to date.”
SERAP is also seeking an order to compel the president to “explain and clarify whether the $25billion (N9.7trillion) overdraft reportedly obtained from the CBN is within the five-percent limit of the actual revenue of the government for 2020.”
The suit followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information (FoI) request to President Buhari, stating that, “Disclosing details of overdrafts and repayments would enable Nigerians to hold the government to account for its fiscal management and ensure that public funds are not mismanaged or diverted.”
In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/559/2021 filed last week at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP is also seeking, “an order directing and compelling President Buhari to disclose details of overdrafts taken from the CBN by successive governments between 1999 and 2015.”
In the suit, SERAP is arguing that, “Secrecy and the lack of public scrutiny of the details of CBN overdrafts and repayments is antithetical to the public interest, the common good, the country’s international legal obligations, and a fundamental breach of constitutional oath of office.”
Joined in the suit as respondents are the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN; the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed; and the Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele.
SERAP is also arguing that, “Ensuring transparency and accountability in the spending of CBN overdrafts and loans would promote prudence in debt management, reduce any risks of corruption and mismanagement, and help the government to avoid the pitfalls of excessive debt.”
According to SERAP, “By the combined reading of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the Freedom of Information Act, the UN Convention against Corruption, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, there are transparency obligations imposed on the government to disclose information to the public concerning details of CBN overdrafts, loans and repayments to date.”
SERAP is also arguing that, “The Nigerian Constitution, Freedom of Information Act, and these treaties rest on the basic principle that citizens should have access to information regarding their government’s activities.”
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Adelanke Aremo, read in part, “Transparency and accountability in the spending of CBN overdrafts would also ensure that public funds are properly spent, reduce the level of public debt, and improve the ability of the government to invest in essential public goods and services, such as quality education, healthcare, and clean water.
“It is the primary responsibility of the government to ensure public access to these services in order to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
“Transparency and accountability in the spending of CBN overdrafts and loans would also improve the ability of the government to effectively respond to the Covid-19 crisis. This means that the government would not have to choose between saving lives or making debt payments.
“The recent overdraft of $25.6billion (about N9.7trillion) reportedly obtained from the CBN would appear to be above the five-percent limit of the actual revenue of the Federal Government for 2020, that is, N3.9trillion, prescribed by Section 38(2) of the CBN Act 2007. SERAP notes that five-percent of N3.9trillion is N197billion.
“While Section 38(1) of the CBN Act allows the Bank to grant overdrafts to the Federal Government to address any temporary deficiency of budget revenue, sub-section 2 provides that any outstanding overdraft ‘shall not exceed five-percent of the previous year’s actual revenue of the Federal Government.’
NDLEA Arrests 774 Suspects, Seizes 3,874.3kgs Of Drugs In Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau
The three states make the Zone D of the narcotics agency.
Zonal Commander in the zone Umoru Ambrose, said this in Lafia yesterday while marking the 2022 UN International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
He said 134 drug suspects were prosecuted during the period, while 378 drug users were counselled and rehabilitated.
He added that states in the zone had intensified their operations in the War against Drug Abuse and sensitisation.
Ambrose called on all stakeholders to get involved in curbing drugs menace in the zone.
In his remarks, NDLEA Commander in Nasarawa State, Peter Odaudu, said the celebrations underscored the need for access to proper treatment for people with drug disorders.
He stressed that the war against drugs must be intensified in Nasarawa State especially given its position as the second highest drug prevalence state in the North Central after Kwara.
“Statistics from the 2018 drug survey showed a very alarming trend, the involvement of females in drug issues.
“We have at least one female out of every four drug users; this development is worrisome and must be reversed,’’ he said.
Odaudu thanked Nasarawa State’s Governor Abdullahi Sule for his support for the NDLEA and solicited urgent intervention in the provision of operational vehicles and the construction of a rehabilitation centre.
Guest speaker, Mr Nwora Okpalaeke, who is coordinator of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria in Nasarawa State, said 494,000 users died of drug abuse in 2019.
He spoke on “Illicit Drugs in Health and Humanitarian Crises.’’
He said drug abusers suffered liver cirrhosis, stroke, hepatitis, kidney and heart failure, noting that 14.3 million Nigerians are drug addicts, while three million are suffering from drug-related disorders.
“Government should strengthen the system to prevent proliferation of drugs and pay attention to agencies charged with reversing the situation.
“Drug abuse affects economic growth; the higher the abuse the higher the level of insecurity and poverty,’’ he said.
Senior Special Assistant on Primary Healthcare to Governor Sule, Margaret Elayo, commended the NDLEA in the state and assured of partnership to curb drug abuse in Nasarawa State.
The theme for this year’s celebration of the Day is: “Addressing Drug Challenges in Health and Humanitarian Crises.’
NDLEA Arrests 218 Suspects, Seizes 1,471.314kg Of Drugs In Imo
The agency has also seized 1,471.314kg of drugs between July 2021 and June 2022.
The state commandant, NDLEA, Mr. Reuben Apeh, disclosed this while speaking to The Tide ahead of this year’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drugs Trafficking.
He said that 1,458.49kg of Cannabis Sativa, 1,0513kg of cocaine, 0.2077kg of Heroine, 3.896kg of Methamphetamine and 3.184kg of Tramadol were exhibits seized within the period under review.
Apeh disclosed further that cannabis farm in hectares was also destroyed in Imo State while 0.5278kg of Rohypnol and 2.5135kg of diazepam were among the seized exhibits.
He stated that some of the arrested suspects had been arraigned and convicted for drug related offences at the Federal High Court.
According to him, “Within the period covered, 51 were convicted and 145 were charged and their cases are still on going”.
Apeh described the drug situation in Imo State as worrisome, saying women have joined the illicit trade for financial gains.
He lamented that drug peddling was alarming among the younger generation in the state.
He, therefore, called on the stakeholders to partner with NDLEA to sensitize the society on the dangers of drug abuse.
By: Joe Nwachukwu, Owerri
NDE Trains 750 Youths On Apprenticeship Skills In Imo
Director-General of the NDE, Mallam Abubakar Nuhu-Fikpo, made this known while flagging off the training programme in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
The Tide reports that the training is captured under the Advanced National Open Apprenticeship Scheme (A-NOAS) and Basic National Apprenticeship Scheme (B-NOAS) of the Directorate’s Department of Vocational Skills Development (VSD).
The training skills include barbing, basic tailoring, hairdressing, welding, event planning, make- up, confectionery and auto mechanic, among others.
Nuhu-Fikpo, represented by the State Coordinator of the NDE in Imo State, Mrs Ngozi Ihenacho, explained that the trainees include youths and women drawn from the 27 local government areas of the state.
According to him, the intensive training programme will take place in the Directorate’s training centres, one in each senatorial district of the state, and last for three months.
He urged the trainees to utilise the opportunity provided by the training programme to acquire viable skills that would enable them become self-reliant, and thereby decongest the labour market, and reduce poverty and hunger.
“In today’s world, opportunities such as these are rare and hardly come on a platter and I urge you, my dear beneficiaries, to take this opportunity serious, be punctual at the training venue with the aim of liberating yourselves from the chains of poverty and unemployment”, he advised.
Also speaking at the programme, Director of the VSD, Mallam Isa Abdu, explained that the training scheme would run simultaneously, with the beneficiaries receiving transport allowances for the duration of training.
Abdu, represented by a senior staff in VSD, Mr Onyekwelu Igwesi, said that expert trainers had been hired to conduct the training and urged the trainees to justify the opportunity given them to become employers of labour.
“All over the world, as the value of money depreciates, entrepreneurs are adjusting with the times, hence the need for viable skills that can drive the economy. Learn the skills and be your own boss”, he said.
One of the trainees, Miss Oluchi Uchenna, who responded on behalf of his colleagues, thanked the NDE for creating the opportunity for them to thrive in their quest to become economically independent.
By: Joe Nwachukwu, Owerri
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