SUN, DEC 15 2019-theG&BJournal- Justice Chikere of the Federal High Court has granted leave to the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to advance its case against the federal government to disclose the details of failed Chinese $460m Abuja CCTV project, contractors’ names & loan repayment.
Justice Chikere Abuja granted leave to compel Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to disclose details of payment of the $460 Chinese loan to contractors, and whether the sum of N1.5 billion paid in 2010 for the failed contract to construct the headquarters of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) was part of another Chinese loan.
Justice Chikere, in granting leave, stated: “After going through the Application filed by SERAP supported by 7 paragraphs Affidavit, with supporting exhibits, statement of facts, and verifying affidavits and written address in support, leave is hereby granted for SERAP to pursue its suit.”
SERAP had filed a lawsuit against Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning over failure to “disclose information and specific documents on the total amount of money paid to contractors from the $460 million loan obtained in 2010 from China to fund the apparently failed Abuja Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) project, and failure to name the contractors involved and explain why the government has continued to re-pay the loan.”
In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1447/2019 filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP is seeking “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus to direct and/or compel the Minister of Finance to disclose the details of local companies and Chinese contractors that have received funds from the $460 million loan for the finance of the failed Abuja CCTV project as well as details of the status of implementation of the project.”
SERAP is also seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel the Minister of Finance to disclose whether the sum of N1.5 billion Naira paid in 2010 for the failed project meant to construct the headquarters of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) was part of another loan obtained from China, and to clarify further whether the sum of N1.5 billion Naira mobilsation fee for the construction of the Headquarters of the CCB in Abuja was part of another loan from China.”
The suit followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information (FoI) request dated 25 October 2019 to Mrs Ahmed, expressing: “concern that Nigerians are being made to pay for the Chinese loans for failed and abandoned projects, and for which they have not benefited in any way, shape or form.”
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare, Opeyemi Owolabi and Ms Atinuke Adejuyigbe, read in part: “Transparency in the spending of Chinese loans is good for everyone, as this would help to increase the effectiveness, legitimacy, and contribution of the loans to the development of public goods and services, and the general public interests.”