SERAP Sues President Buhari Over N1.48bn Expenditure on Moribund Refineries

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The Socioeconomic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari for the alleged expenditure of N1.48billion on the country’s four moribund refineries between 2015 and 2020.

SERAP insists that the funds may have been stolen, mismanaged or diverted to private pockets. There were reports a fortnight ago that the Nigerian government spent N10.23 billion in June 2020 on three refineries processing zero crude.

The reports also stated that the sum of $1.5billion was spent the repairs of the Port Harcourt refinery. SERAP said despite the huge expenses, refineries remain idle as fuel shortages persist.

In the lawsuit number FHC/L/CS/806/2022 filed last week in the Lagos Federal High Court, SERAP seeks “an order of mandamus to order and compel President Buhari to investigate spending on Nigerian refineries and the alleged mismanagement of public funds budgeted for the maintenance of the refineries since 1999.”

In the suit published in its official twitter handle, SERAP also seeks “a mandamus order to compel President Buhari to ensure the prosecution of anyone suspected of being responsible for the importation and distribution of dirty fuel in Nigeria, and to identify and ensure access to justice and effective remedies for affected victims.”

“It is in the public interest to ensure justice and accountability for alleged corruption and mismanagement in the oil sector, which has resulted in the importation and distribution of dirty fuel and prolonged fuel shortages in the country,” the group said.

SERAP holds that the Nigerian Constitution, as well as international standards impose clear obligations on President Buhari’s administration to take effective accountability measures to dismiss, expose and punish allegations of corruption in the oil sector, and ensure effective remedies for victims.

“Ensuring fairness and accountability in the spending of public funds on refineries would improve the availability of gasoline and the enjoyment by Nigerians of their right to wealth and natural resources.

“Impunity for alleged corruption in the oil sector has contributed to the importation and distribution of bad fuels, violating the human rights of many users, including a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment,” the group said.

According to SERAP, Buhari administration has legal obligations under Section 15 (5) of the Nigerian Constitution to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power, and Article 26 of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption to ensure the effective prosecution of corruption allegations.

“Alleged corruption and mismanagement in the oil sector and the importation and distribution of dirty fuel have continued to deprive Nigerians of economic opportunity, subjecting them to cruel and degrading treatment,” the group said.

SERAP is also seeking “an order of mandamus to order and compel President Buhari to instruct the appropriate anti-corruption agencies to jointly track and monitor the spending of public funds to rehabilitate, operate and maintain Nigeria’s refineries.”

The lawsuit is filed on behalf of SERAP by its attorneys, Kolawole Oluwadare and Adelanke Aremo. No date has been set for the hearing.

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