President Muhammadu Buhari has been dragged to court “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.”
Lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Adelanke Aremo filed the lawsuit on behalf of Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).
According to the suit, the Buhari government spent 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.”
The 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. Despite the huge spending, the refineries are still not working while fuel scarcity persists.
In the suit number FHC/L/CS/806/2022 filed last week at the Federal High Court, Lagos, SERAP is seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to investigate the spending on Nigeria’s refineries, and alleged mismanagement of public funds budgeted for maintaining the refineries since 1999.”
President Buhari is the oil minister.
SERAP is also seeking “an order of mandamus to compel President 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.”
SERAP is arguing that, “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 protracted fuel scarcity in the country.”
According to SERAP, “Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], and international standards impose clear obligations on the Buhari administration to take effective accountability measures to weed out, expose, and punish allegations of corruption in the oil sector, and to ensure effective remedies for victims.”
SERAP is also arguing that, “Ensuring justice and accountability in the spending of public funds on refineries would improve the availability of petrol and the enjoyment by Nigerians of their right to natural wealth and resources.”
SERAP is arguing that, “Impunity for alleged corruption in the oil sector has contributed to the importation and distribution of bad fuel, violating the human rights of many users, including to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.”
SERAP is further arguing that, “The 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 UN Convention against Corruption to ensure effective prosecution of allegations of corruption.”
Joined in the suit as Respondent is Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.