SERAP sues Tinubu over N400bn subsidy savings

SOCIO-ECONOMIC Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu over the failure to disclose spending details of about N400 billion saved from the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), commonly known as petrol.

The organisation disclosed this via its Twitter handle on Sunday, August 6.

In the suit filed at the Federal High Court in Lagos, SERAP prayed the court to compel the President to provide a detailed account of how the funds will be used and allocated.

“SERAP is also seeking ‘an order of mandamus to compel President Tinubu to provide details of the mechanisms that have been put in place to ensure that the savings from the removal of subsidy on petrol are not diverted into private pockets’ “ the statement partly read.

The organisation also said publishing the spending details will promote public trust and hold responsible individuals accountable for their actions, adding that the Nigerian Constitution, Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s anti-corruption and human rights obligations all support citizens’ right to access information about the government’s activities.

“The Tinubu government has a legal obligation to ensure that the savings from the removal of subsidy on petrol are spent solely for the benefit of the 137 million poor Nigerians who are bearing the brunt of the removal.

“SERAP is also arguing that, opacity in the spending of the savings from subsidy removal would have negative impacts on the fundamental interests of the citizens and the public interest,” the statement read.

In July, SERAP demanded Tinubu publishes spending details of the N400 billion saved as a result of the removal of fuel subsidy.

SERAP had given Tinubu 7 days to comply with their demands or face legal action.

Tinubu announced the removal of petrol subsidy on May 29, while delivering his inaugural speech, after which fuel prices surged by about 200 per cent.

The surge in fuel costs resulted in some hardship for Nigerians, as transport costs and other businesses have been affected by the hike.

On Friday, June 30, oil marketers said that the Federal Government had saved N400 billion as a result of the removal, based on calculations by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) Mele Kyari on Nigerians monthly subsidy expenditure.

Tinubu also said in an address to the nation on Monday, July 31, that the sum of N1 trillion had been saved since the removal of the fuel subsidy.

    “In a little over two months, we have saved over a trillion Naira that would have been squandered on the unproductive fuel subsidy, which only benefitted smugglers and fraudsters. That money will now be used more directly and more beneficially for you and your families,” Tinubu said.

    However, it is not clear where the saved funds are being channelled to.

    President of the National Labour Congress Joe Ajaero, during a protest by Organised Labour in the country, said that according to federal government officials involved in the negotiation process, the country had not saved any money despite the subsidy removal.

    “Mr President talked about N1trillion saved. The committee where we meet, they told us that no one kobo has been saved so far; therefore, we have not agreed on what to pay anywhere,” Ajaero said.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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