SERAP sues Wike, 36 govs over N5.9tn, $4.6bn loans – Newstrends
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SERAP sues Wike, 36 govs over N5.9tn, $4.6bn loans

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SERAP sues Wike, 36 govs over N5.9tn, $4.6bn loans

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against Nigeria’s governors and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Mr Nyesom Wike “over their failure to account for N5.9 trillion and $4.6 billion loans obtained by their states and the FCT, and to publish copies of the loan agreements, including details and locations of projects executed with the loans.”

The suit followed the disclosure last month by Governor Uba Sani of Kaduna State that the immediate past administration of Nasir El-Rufai left $587m, N85bn debt and 115 contractual liabilities, making it impossible for the state to pay salaries.

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/592/2024 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP is asking the court to “direct and compel the governors and Mr Wike to account for N5.9trn and $4.6bn loans obtained by their states and the FCT and to publish copies of the loan agreements, location of projects executed with the loans.”

SERAP is also asking the court to “direct and compel the governors and Mr Wike to invite the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate the spending of all the loans obtained to date by their states and the FCT.”

In the suit, SERAP is arguing that “It is in the public interest to grant the reliefs sought. Nigerians have the right to see and scrutinise the loan agreements and know the details of how the domestic and external loans obtained by the governors and FCT minister are spent.”

According to SERAP, “Opacity in the spending of the loans obtained by the governors and Mr Wike would continue to have negative impacts on the fundamental interests of the citizens.”

SERAP is also arguing that, “Many states and the FCT are reportedly spending public funds which may include the loans obtained by them to fund unnecessary travels, buy exotic and bulletproof cars and generally fund the lavish lifestyles of politicians.”

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SERAP is also arguing that, “Many states and the FCT are also allegedly mismanaging public funds which may include domestic and external loans obtained from bilateral and multilateral institutions and agencies.”

According to SERAP, “Many states and the FCT reportedly owe civil servants’ salaries and pensions. Several states are borrowing to pay salaries. Millions of Nigerians resident in the state and FCT continue to be denied access to basic public goods and services such as quality education and healthcare.”

According to SERAP, “Transparency in the spending of the loans obtained by the states and FCT is fundamental to increase accountability, prevent corruption, and build trust in democratic institutions with the ultimate aim of strengthening the rule of law.”

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare, Kehinde Oyewumi and Ms Valentina Adegoke, read in part: “States and the FCT should be guided by transparency and accountability principles and proactively account for the loans obtained and publish copies of the loan agreements.”

“Widely publishing copies of the loan agreements and spending details of the loans obtained would ensure that persons with public responsibilities are answerable to the people for the performance of their duties in the management of public funds.”

“State governors and Mr Wike cannot hide under the excuse that the Freedom of Information Act is not applicable to their states and the FCT. The legal obligations to publish the information sought are also imposed by the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”

“According to Nigeria’s Debt Management Office, the total public domestic debt portfolio for the country’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory is N5.9 trillion. The total public external debt portfolio is $4.6 billion.”

“The domestic and external loans obtained by the states and the FCT are vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement. The states and FCT have a responsibility to ensure transparency and accountability in how any loans obtained by the states and FCT are spent, to reduce vulnerability to corruption and mismanagement.”

“Directing and compelling the states and FCT to publish copies of the loan agreements would allow Nigerians to scrutinise them, and promote transparency and accountability on the spending of public funds including the loans obtained.”

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“Providing and widely publishing the details of the spending of the domestic and external loans obtained by the states and FCT would enable Nigerians to effectively and meaningfully engage in the management of the loans.”

“The constitutional principle of democracy also provides a foundation for Nigerians’ right to know the details of loan agreements and how the loans obtained are spent. Citizens’ right to know promotes openness, transparency, and accountability that is in turn crucial for the country’s democratic order.”

“The effective operation of representative democracy depends on the people being able to scrutinize, discuss and contribute to government decision making, including on the spending of loans obtained by the states and FCT.”

“To do this, they need information to enable them to participate more effectively in the management of public funds by their state governments and the FCT.”

“The public interest in obtaining information about expenditures relating to the loans obtained by the states and FCT outweighs any privacy or other interest.”

“The oversight afforded by public access to such details would serve as an important check on the activities of the states and FCT and help to prevent abuses of the public trust.”

“There is a significant risk of mismanagement or diversion of funds linked to loans obtained by state governments and the FCT. The accounts of Nigeria’s 36 states and the FCT are generally not open to public scrutiny.”

“The Nigerian Constitution, human rights and anticorruption treaties to which Nigeria is a state party also impose obligations on the states and FCT to prevent mismanagement or diversion of public funds including the loans obtained.”

“Many years of allegations of corruption and mismanagement of public funds including the loans obtained by the states and FCT have contributed to widespread poverty, underdevelopment and lack of access to public goods and services.”

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit filed by SERAP.

SERAP sues Wike, 36 govs over N5.9tn, $4.6bn loans

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Northern elders express concern over dethronement of Kano Emirs

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Northern elders express concern over dethronement of Kano Emirs

The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has expressed concern over the dethronement of Kano Emirs.

The Forum on the other hand blamed the previous administration for creating new emirates, saying such action threatens the unity and cohesion of the traditional structure and undermines the centuries-old customs, values, and traditions that are the bedrock of Nigerian society.

In a press release by its director of publicity and advocacy, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, the forum warned that the crisis in the Kano emirate has significantly raised public tensions and concerns.

It, however, urged the Kano state government and the involved politicians to handle the situation with utmost care and professionalism to prevent further escalation.

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“It is important for all parties involved to approach this matter with the utmost care and professionalism, keeping in mind the potential consequences of their actions. Rash decisions and inflammatory statements can only serve to worsen the situation and jeopardize the peace and stability of the state,” NEF stated.

The Forum also called on the public to remain calm and law-abiding, stressing that violence and unrest would only further divide the community and hinder peaceful resolution efforts.

The Elders emphasized the need for unity and mutual understanding during this crisis, noting that, the traditional institution in Nigeria has long faced challenges that have rendered it weak and ineffective.

According to NEF, “Creation of multiple emirates in Kano is a deliberate attempt to weaken the authority of traditional rulers, making them more susceptible to political control and manipulation. The arbitrary dethronement and replacement of high-ranking traditional rulers in Kano, according to the NEF, undermine their authority and legitimacy.

“This move threatens the unity and cohesion of the traditional structure and undermines the centuries-old customs, values, and traditions that are the bedrock of Nigerian society,” the Forum stressed.

Northern elders express concern over dethronement of Kano Emirs

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BREAKING: Yusuf signs bill reversing Ganduje’s Kano emirates creation

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Kano State Governor, Abba Kabir Yusuf

BREAKING: Yusuf signs bill reversing Ganduje’s Kano emirates creation

Kano State Governor, Abba Kabir Yusuf, on Thursday, signed the new emirate council law.

The governor, alongside his deputy, the Speaker of the State Assembly and other principal officers in the government signed the law Thursday evening at the Government House.

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[ICYMI] HOW TO APPLY FOR STUDENT LOAN

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[ICYMI] HOW TO APPLY FOR STUDENT LOAN

CREATING AN ACCOUNT

Step 1: visit www.nelf.gov.ng

Step 2: Click on the “Apply Now”

Step 3: Click on “Get Started”

Step 4: Answer the questions on this page to continue by clicking on “Yes, I am a Nigerian”

Step 5: Verify your educational information. You would be required to select your school from a dropdown and provide your matric number to check if your school has uploaded your details.

Step 6: Click the “Verify with JAMB” and enter your JAMB details in the screen.
(Students whose NIN has not been registered with JAMB will have an input field where they can enter their NIN for validation.)

Step 7: Create an account by entering your Email address, Password and Confirm Password in the fields provided and click “Create Account”.

Step 8: Click the email verification link sent to your email.
This concludes the process of creating an account.

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HOW TO COMPLETE YOUR PROFILE

After successful registration, log in by clicking the “LOGIN” button.

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