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SERAP goes to court, demands details of Obasanjo, Buhari, others’ loans

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has taken legal action against President Bola Tinubu’s administration.

The organisation described the move as necessary so as to ensure financial transparency.

The lawsuit demands the publication of detailed spending reports and agreements related to loans acquired by the administrations of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan, and Muhammadu Buhari.

Filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Lagos, the suit aims to compel the Minister of Finance, Wale Edun, and the Debt Management Office to disclose how these loans, totaling billions of dollars, were utilised.

SERAP contends that the citizens’ right to know how public funds are spent is fundamental to democratic governance and accountability.

The organisation argued that transparency in loan agreements and expenditures is critical for Nigerians to evaluate their government’s performance, especially in light of persistent extreme poverty and inadequate public services despite substantial borrowing.

According to a Sunday statement signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP said the outcome of the case could significantly impact the transparency and accountability mechanisms in Nigeria’s financial management.

The statement was titled, “SERAP sues Tinubu govt over failure to account for loans by ex-presidents.”

In the suit number FHC/L/CS/353/2024 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Lagos, SERAP is asking the court to “direct and compel the Tinubu government to publish the loan agreements obtained by the governments of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari.”

SERAP is also asking the court to “direct and compel the Tinubu government to publish the spending details of any such loans, including the interests and other payments so far made on the loans.

 “Publishing the loan agreements signed by the governments of former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari, and widely publishing the agreements would allow Nigerians to scrutinise it and to demand accountability for the spending of the loans.

“According to Nigeria’s Debt Management Office, the total public domestic debt portfolio for the country’s is N97.3 trillion ($108 billion). The Federal Government’s debt is N87.3 trillion ($97 billion).

“Nigeria paid $6.2 billion in 2019 as interest on loans while the country paid $6.5 as interest in 2018. Nigeria also paid $5 billion as interest on loans in 2017 while the country paid $4.4 billion as interest in 2016. For 2015, the interest paid on loans was $5.5 billion.”

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