SERAP Drags FG to Court over COVID-19 Palliatives

A civil society organisation, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against the Federal High Court, Abuja to order the federal government and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over COVID-19 palliatives in the country.

The group asked the court to order the federal government and CBN to publicly identify and name Nigerians who have so far benefited from any cash payments, cash transfers, food distribution and other reliefs and palliatives during the lockdown in Abuja, Lagos, and Ogun states because of COVID-19.

SERAP in a statement yesterday said the suit followed its Freedom of Information requests dated 4 April, 2020, expressing concern that “millions of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people have not benefited from the announced palliatives, donations, reported cash payments, cash transfers and other reliefs.”

The suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/657/2020 filed last week on behalf of SERAP by its counsel, Kolawole Oluwadare and Joke Fekumo, read in part, “By a combined reading of the FoI Act and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ms Umar-Farouk and Emefiele ought to be directed and compelled to make public details of those that have benefited from COVID-19 funds and donations.

“Any perception that the reliefs, funds and donations are not reaching intended beneficiaries would undermine public trust and the integrity of the entire processes and modes of distribution of reliefs/benefits to these Nigerians.

“Both the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development, and the CBN governor have a legal duty to ensure that information on the details of those who have so far benefited from COVID-19 funds and donations is released to SERAP upon requests, and that the information is widely published. Yet, both have completely ignored SERAP’s requests.”

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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