Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit asking the Federal High Court Abuja to restrain President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government from borrowing an estimated N895 billion of Nigerians’ money, in the form of unclaimed dividends and balances in dormant accounts, under the guise of Finance Act, 2020.
The group described the Finance Act as patently unlawful, unconstitutional, and a discriminatory legislation.
In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/31/2021 filed last Friday on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Adelanke Aremo, the group sought for “an order of perpetual injunction restraining and stopping President Buhari from demanding, taking over, borrowing, and collecting Nigerians’ money in the form of their unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts or transferring and moving the money into a trust fund known as Unclaimed Funds Trust Fund.
“The Federal Government should not be allowed to borrow Nigerians’ money. Borrowing unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts owned by ordinary Nigerians would negatively affect their right to an adequate standard of living, and access to clean water, quality healthcare and education. Despite Nigeria’s dwindling oil revenue, the growing level of public debt, and widespread poverty, public officers including the President, Vice President, governors and their deputies, and members of the National Assembly have refused to cut their emoluments, allowances and security votes. At the same time, millions of Nigerians continue to bear the brunt of mismanagement and corruption.
“For there to be a borrower, there must be a lender. The intention to enter into such borrower-lender relationship must be known to both parties. Any other arrangement that allows a borrower to access funds from a lender without the knowledge and express consent of the lender will amount to stealing.Borrowing unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts without due process of law and the knowledge and explicit consent of the owners is arbitrary, and as such, legally and morally unjustifiable.
“The move to borrow Nigerians’ money amounts to unlawful expropriation, as it is neither proportionate nor necessary, especially given the unwillingness or inability of the government to stop systemic and widespread corruption in MDAs, cut waste and stop all leakages in public expenditures. The borrowing is also not in the public interest.”
Joined in the suit as Defendants are Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN); Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Ms Zainab Ahmed.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.