Nigeria: SERAP drags FG to court over N1.48trn spent on refineries

The leadership of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has dragged the federal government to court over N1.48 trillion spent on the maintenance of the nation’s four refineries without any meaningful results.

In the suit number FHC/L/CS/806/2022 filed last week at the Federal High Court, Lagos, SERAP said it is suing the Nigerian president “over his failure to probe allegations that over N1.48 trillion reportedly spent on maintaining the country’s four refineries between 2015 and 2020 may have been stolen, mismanaged or diverted into private pockets.”

The government, according to the organisation in a statement, reportedly spent N10.23 billion in June 2020 on three refineries that processed zero crude oil. Also in 2021, the government approved $1.5 billion (about N600 billion) to repair the Port Harcourt refinery. Despite the huge spending, the refineries are still not working while fuel scarcity persists.

SERAP is seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to investigate the spending on Nigeria’s refineries, and alleged mismanagement of public funds budgeted for maintaining the refineries since 1999.”

It is also seeking “an order of mandamus to compel President Buhari to ensure the prosecution of anyone suspected to be responsible for the importation and distribution of dirty fuel into Nigeria and to identify and ensure access to justice and effective remedies to affected victims.”

It is also arguing that, “It is in the public interest to ensure justice and accountability for alleged corruption and mismanagement in the oil sector, which has resulted in the importation and distribution of dirty fuel and protracted fuel scarcity in the country.”

According to SERAP, “Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], and international standards impose clear obligations on the Buhari administration to take effective accountability measures to weed out, expose, and punish allegations of corruption in the oil sector, and to ensure effective remedies for victims.”

SERAP is also arguing that “Ensuring justice and accountability in the spending of public funds on refineries would improve the availability of petrol and the enjoyment by Nigerians of their right to natural wealth and resources.”

“Impunity for alleged corruption in the oil sector has contributed to the importation and distribution of bad fuel, violating the human rights of many users, including to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

“The Buhari administration has legal obligations under Section 15(5) of the Nigerian Constitution to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power, and article 26 of the UN Convention against Corruption to ensure effective prosecution of allegations of corruption.

Alleged corruption and mismanagement in the oil sector and the importation and distribution of dirty fuel have continued to deprive Nigerians of economic opportunities, subjecting them to cruel and degrading treatment.”

The group is seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to instruct appropriate anti-corruption agencies to jointly track and monitor the spending of public funds to rehabilitate, operate, and maintain Nigeria’s refineries.”

Joined in the suit as a respondent is Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, with Mr Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Adelanke Aremo as counsel to SERAP.

A date for the hearing of the suit is yet to be fixed.



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