SERAP Sues Buhari over N1.48trn Spent on Refineries’ Maintenance
Udora Orizu in Abuja
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has filed a lawsuit against the President Muhammadu Buhari over his failure to probe allegations that over N1.48 trillion reportedly spent on maintaining the country’s four refineries between 2015 and 2020 may have been stolen, mismanaged or diverted into private pockets.
Joined in the suit as respondent was the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami.
The federal government reportedly spent N10.23 billion in June 2020, on three refineries that processed zero crude. Also in 2021, the government approved $1.5 billion (about N600 billion) to repair the Port Harcourt refinery.
Owing to these, in the suit number FHC/L/CS/806/2022 filed last week at the Federal High Court, Lagos, SERAP said despite the huge spending, the refineries were still not working while fuel scarcity persists.
The organisation therefore sought an order of mandamus to direct and compel Buhari to investigate the spending on Nigeria’s refineries, and alleged mismanagement of public funds budgeted for maintaining the refineries since 1999.
SERAP also sought an order of mandamus to compel Buhari to ensure the prosecution of anyone suspected to be responsible for the importation and distribution of dirty fuel into Nigeria, and to identify and ensure access to justice and effective remedies to affected victims.
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Adelanke Aremo, read in part: “Directing and compelling President Buhari to probe allegations of corruption and mismanagement of the money meant to repair the country’s refineries would advance the rights of victims of corruption to restitution, compensation and guarantee of non-repetition.
“Combating the corruption epidemic in the oil sector would alleviate poverty, improve access of Nigerians to basic public goods and services, and enhance the ability of the government to meet its human rights and anti-corruption obligations.
“Despite the country’s enormous oil wealth, ordinary Nigerians have derived very little benefit from their own natural wealth and resources, primarily because of widespread grand corruption, and the impunity of perpetrators.
“High-ranking public officials, including officers of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited suspected of complicity in the allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the oil sector, and the importation and distribution of adulterated fuel have continued to enjoy impunity.
“According to reports, the government spends over N264 billion annually to operate and maintain the country’s refineries. Successive governments have reportedly spent trillions of Naira to rehabilitate, operate and maintain the refineries that have produced little or no fuel.
“The government reportedly spent $396 million for maintenance of the country’s refineries between 2015 and 2020 alone. Despite this huge spending, millions of Nigerians continue to lack access to full and unhindered supply of fuel.
“About N82.82 billion was reportedly spent in 2015; N78.95 billion in 2016; N604.127 billion in 2017; N426.66 billion in 2019; N218.18 billion in 2019, and N64.534 billion expenditure was recorded from January to June 2020.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.