The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari over the failure to probe the spending of trillions of ecological funds by governments at all levels–federal, state and local governments – from 2001 to date, and to ensure the prosecution of suspected perpetrators of corruption and mismanagement of public funds.
Joined in the suit as respondents were the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.
In the suit number FHC/L/CS/2283/2022 filed last Friday, at the Federal High Court, Lagos, SERAP sought the court to direct and compel Buhari to promptly and thoroughly investigate the spending of Ecological Fund by governments at the Federal, state and local government levels from 2001 to date.
SERAP asked the court to direct and compel Buhari to ensure that suspected perpetrators of corruption and mismanagement of trillions of ecological funds were promptly brought to justice, and any missing public funds fully recovered.
SERAP argued that impunity for corruption in the management of Ecological Fund would continue as long as high-ranking public officials go largely unpunished for their alleged crimes.
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyer, Kolawole Oluwadare, read in part: “the federal government has the legal obligations to address the calamitous consequences of flooding for the human rights of millions of people, and to prevent and address the consequences that climate change may reap on human rights.
“According to the audit of the Ecological Fund Office carried out by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, (NEITI), the total amount received by the fund from December 2011 to November 2016 alone was N277 billion.
“The operations of the Fund from 2012 to 2016 reportedly showed that some of the disbursements were not utilised for the purpose for which it was established. During these periods, N74,170,932,645.20 was released to state governments to solve ecological problems in their states. “Although ecological funds are shared across the three tiers of government, and emergency management agencies, the funds are managed and supervised by the federal government. The federal government has the legal obligations to prevent and address the threats to human rights that result from climate change, and to provide access to justice and effective remedies for victims when these rights are violated.”