The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) have dragged the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Lamido Sanusi, before a Federal High Court, Ikeja, seeking an order to compel the apex bank to produce documents on the authorization for the N1.26 trillion subsidy payments for 2011.
SERAP is a non-governmental organization involved primarily in the promotion of accountability and transparency in the public and private sectors as well as the promotion of human rights, particularly the socio-economic rights of Nigerians in order to entrench social justice in the Nigerian polity.
The groups in suit No. FHC/IK/CS/23//2012 filed last Thursday in Lagos against Mr. Sanusi and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, said they had written to the CBN on January 15, 2011 requesting for information concerning the expenditure on fuel ‘subsidy’ in 2011, particularly authorization for the payment of N1.26 trillion by the CBN pursuant to the provisions of Section 20 of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2001 as well as order 34 Rules 1, 3(1), (2) and (6)(b) of the Federal High Court (civil procedure) rules, 2009.
SERAP’s attorney, Chinyere Nwafor, noted in the suit that though the Act confers on citizens and groups the right to demand for, or gain access to information in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution, the CBN failed to provide the information requested within the time limit stipulated by the law.
Some of the reliefs sought by the groups include a declaration that the issuance and release of the sum of N1.26 trillion, above the initial sum of N250billion allocated for fuel subsidy for 2011 without authorization by an Act of the National Assembly, or a Supplementary Appropriation Act, is a breach of section 80(2), (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and as such is unlawful and unconstitutional.
The other relief was that Mr. Sanusi and Mr. Adoke are under a binding legal obligation to provide an up-to-date information on government/public spending relating to fuel ‘subsidy’ in 2011, including the basis of such spendings were made as well as detailed information and justifications for the ‘subsidy’ figure to rise from N250billion to over N1.3 trillion by the end of October 2011, N1.5trillion by December 2011 and subsequently N1.26 trillion, without supplementary appropriation authorizing the expenditure.
But the CBN Head of Communications and Media, Mohammed Abdullahi, said on Sunday that the management of the apex bank was yet to receive either the January 15 request by the group, or any court order to release any such information to any group.
No date has been fixed for hearing on the application.