Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has filed a lawsuit against Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, and Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, over “their failure to account for public funds and other resources so far spent and used to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria.”
In a statement issued yesterday, SERAP said the suit was necessary after its Freedom of Information (FoI) requests dated March 27, 2020 to the Minister of Health and the NCDC were not responded to.
In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/616/2020 filed last week at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP sought “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus to direct and compel the Minister of Health and the NCDC to publish details of the funds and resources from federal and state governments, and the private sector, as well as details of how the funds and resources have so far been spent and used to combat COVID-19.”
The group urged the court to mandate the respondents to “disclose the details of exact funds and other resources allocated by the Nigerian authorities and private sector donations to the respondents to improve Nigeria’s health facilities to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria; details of spending and planned spending of any such funds, other resources and donations to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria.”
It noted that transparency in the use of COVID-19 money would help to reduce the risk of corruption or opportunism, build trust and engage Nigerians in the fight against coronavirus as well as safe lives.
“Nigerians have the right to know the details of spending of COVID-19 money, as this is essential to the fight against corruption, and will foster the development of democratic institutions and the rule of law in Nigeria,” the statement added.