Court Orders Buhari’s Minister To Account For ₦729 Billion Meant For Poor Nigerians

A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadia Umar-Farouk, to account for the disbursement of ₦729 billion to 24.3 million poor Nigerians over six months.

The court also directed Umar-Farouk to provide a comprehensive list and details of the beneficiaries who received the payments, including the number of states covered and the specific payments made per state.

The judgment was delivered in June by Hon. Justice Deinde Isaac Dipeolu following a Freedom of Information suit numbered FHC/L/CS/853/2021, brought by the Socio-Economic Rights And Accountability Project (SERAP).

SERAP disclosed that it obtained the certified true copy of the judgment last Friday.

In his judgment, Justice Dipeolu held that, “The former minister is compelled by the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act to give information to any person including SERAP.

“I therefore grant an order of mandamus directing and compelling the minister to provide the spending details of ₦729 billion to 24.3 million poor Nigerians in 2021.”

Justice Dipeolu ordered the minister to “provide SERAP with details of how the beneficiaries have been selected and the mechanisms for the payments to the beneficiaries.”

Justice Dipeolu also ordered the minister to “explain the rationale for paying ₦5,000 to 24.3 million poor Nigerians, which translates to five percent of Nigeria’s budget of ₦13.6 trillion for 2021.”

Justice Dipeolu stated that, “The minister did not give any reason for the refusal to disclose the details sought by SERAP. SERAP has reeled out the relevant sections of the Freedom of Information Act 2011 that the minister contravened and has, in line with sections 20 and 25(1) of the Act, prayed this Court for an order of mandamus to direct and compel the minister to provide the information sought.”

Justice Dipeolu dismissed the objections raised by the minister’s counsel and upheld SERAP’s arguments. Consequently, the court entered judgment in favor of SERAP against the minister.