SERAP sues Tinubu over ‘failure to probe missing $3.4bn IMF loan’

THE Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued President Bola Tinubu over his ‘failure’ to probe the ‘missing’ $3.4 billion loan obtained by Nigeria from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to finance the budget and respond to COVID-19 was missing, diverted or unaccounted for.

A statement by SERAP on Sunday, March 3, noted that in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/269/2024 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Abuja, the organisation asked the court to compel Tinubu to probe the allegedly missing fund.

SERAP had charged Tinubu on February 4 to probe the fund, noting that the allegations were contained in the recently published 2020 Nigeria’s annual audited report by the Auditor-General of the Federation.

Meanwhile, in a statement on Sunday, SERAP announced that it had sought a mandamus order to ensure Tinubu retrieve the fund.

The SERAP argued that: “Investigating these grave allegations, bringing suspected perpetrators to justice and recovering any missing IMF loan would contribute to addressing the country’s economic crisis and debt burden.”

It contended that the Auditor-General’s findings indicated a serious breach of public trust, contravening the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended), national anti-corruption statutes, and the nation’s commitments under the UN Convention against Corruption.


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According to SERAP, “Servicing IMF loan that is allegedly missing, diverted or unaccounted for is double jeopardy for Nigerians—they can neither see nor benefit from the projects for which the loan was approved; yet, they are made to pay back both the loan and accrued interests.”

The SERAP also emphasised that without the President being compelled to thoroughly investigate these ‘damning’ revelations, those suspected of wrongdoing would persist in escaping accountability for their actions and benefitting from their illicit gains.






     

     

    It also noted that there was a valid public interest in securing justice and accountability on the allegations, adding that providing the requested remedies would put an end to the impunity enjoyed by wrongdoers and ensure justice for corruption victims.

    The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Andrew Nwankwo, read in part: “The Auditor-General has recommended that the money should be fully recovered and remitted to the public treasury and for the evidence of remittance to be forwarded to the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly.

    “The Auditor-General has also recommended that anyone suspected to be involved should be sanctioned and handed over to the EFCC and ICPC for investigation and prosecution, as provided for in paragraph 3112 of the Financial Regulations.”

    “According to SERAP’s information, Nigeria has signed an agreement to spread the repayment of the IMF loan/interests from 2023 to 2027. The first instalment, due in 2023, is worth $497.17 million. The second instalment, due in 2024, will be worth $1.76 billion. The third instalment, due in 2025, will be worth $865.27 million.”

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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