SERAP ask Buhari to reveal details of overdrafts obtained from CBN
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit asking the Federal High Court in Abuja to compel the federal government to reveal details of overdrafts and loans taken from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) since May 29, 2015.
In a statement on Sunday, SERAP’s deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare said in the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/559/2021 filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja last week, SERAP is also seeking the government to specify the purpose of any borrowing, including the economic and social benefits.
The suit filed by SERAP’s lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms. Adelanke Aremo, partly read: “Transparency and accountability in the spending of CBN overdrafts would also ensure that public funds are properly spent, reduce the level of public debt, and improve the ability of the government to invest in essential public goods and services, such as quality education, healthcare, and clean water”
“It is the primary responsibility of the government to ensure public access to these services in order to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
“Transparency and accountability in the spending of CBN overdrafts and loans would also improve the ability of the government to effectively respond to the COVID-19 crisis. This means that the government would not have to choose between saving lives or making debt payments.
“The recent overdraft of $25.6bn (about N9.7trn) reportedly obtained from the CBN would appear to be above the five-percent limit of the actual revenue of the Federal Government for 2020, that’s, N3.9trn, prescribed by Section 38(2) of the CBN Act 2007. SERAP notes that five per cent of N3.9trn is N197bn.
“While Section 38(1) of the CBN Act allows the Bank to grant overdrafts to the Federal Government to address any temporary deficiency of budget revenue, sub-section 2 provides that any outstanding overdraft ‘shall not exceed five per cent of the previous year’s actual revenue of the Federal Government’.”
“Similarly, Section 38(3) requires all overdrafts to ‘be repaid as soon as possible and by the end of the financial year in which the overdrafts are granted.’”
The attorney general of the federation, Abubakar Malami, and minister of justice, minister of finance, budget and national planning, Zainab Ahmed, and CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele are joined in the suit.
Meanwhile, no specific date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.