- A Federal High Court in Abuja has directed the Nigerian government to provide an account of the $460 million Chinese loan utilized for the unsuccessful Abuja Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) project.
- The court ruling also mandates the government to disclose the total amount paid to Chinese and local companies involved in the project, along with specific implementation details.
- The judgment, resulting from a suit filed by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), aims to promote transparency and accountability regarding Chinese loans and government spending.
A Federal High Court in Abuja has issued a judgment ordering the Nigerian government, under President Muhammadu Buhari, to provide an account of the $460 million Chinese loan allocated for the failed Abuja Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) project.
The court ruling, resulting from a Freedom of Information suit filed by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), aims to promote transparency and accountability regarding the utilization of Chinese loans and government spending.
Justice Emeka Nwite, presiding over the case, ruled in favor of SERAP’s argument that there is a reasonable cause of action against the government. Justice Nwite emphasized that accounting for the expenditure of the $460 million loan is in the public interest and essential for promoting transparency.
The court ordered the government to disclose the total amount paid to Chinese and local companies involved in the CCTV project, as well as provide specific implementation details.
The judgment also addressed the Minister of Finance’s statement in 2019, where she admitted to servicing the loan but expressed a lack of information regarding the status of the project.
Justice Nwite highlighted that the Minister of Finance, as the custodian of the nation’s finances, should not be oblivious to the funds disbursed to contractors for the CCTV contract and the construction of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) headquarters.
The court mandated the government to clarify whether the reported N1.5 billion mobilization fee paid to contractors for the CCB headquarters was part of another loan obtained from China.
SERAP welcomed the court’s decision, commending Justice Nwite’s courage and wisdom. The organization urged President Buhari and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to promptly comply with the court’s orders.
The ruling is seen as a victory for justice, the rule of law, and the promotion of transparency and accountability.
SERAP vows to ensure full compliance by President Buhari with the judgment, calling for the publication of details regarding the spending of all Chinese loans and other loans obtained by the government since May 2015.
Data from Nigeria’s Debt Management Office (DMO) reveals that the country’s borrowing from China increased from $1.39 billion to $4.29 billion between June 2015 and December 2022.
The court’s decision highlights the growing concerns surrounding Chinese loans and emphasizes the need for transparency and responsible handling of these funds.
As the judgment sets a precedent in the fight against corruption and impunity, the onus now lies on President Buhari to adhere to the court’s orders and provide the requested information.
The ruling serves as a significant step toward ensuring accountability and transparency in the utilization of Chinese loans and government spending.
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