SERAP sues Buhari over $25billion overdrafts from CBN

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit asking the Federal High Court in Abuja to compel President Muhammadu Buhari to reveal spending details of the overdrafts and loans taken from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, since May 29, 2015.

SERAP is also seeking an order from the court to compel Buhari to explain and clarify whether the $25billion overdraft reportedly taken from the CBN is within the five-per cent limit of the actual revenue of the government for 2020.

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In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/559/2021 filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja last week, SERAP is also seeking the government to specify the purpose of any borrowing, including the economic and social benefits.

Joined as respondents are Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of CBN, and the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed.

The suit filed by SERAP’s lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Adelanke Aremo, partly read: “Transparency and accountability in the spending of CBN overdrafts would also ensure that public funds are properly spent, reduce the level of public debt, and improve the ability of the government to invest in essential public goods and services.

“The recent overdraft of $25.6bn (about N9.7trn) reportedly obtained from the CBN would appear to be above the five-per cent limit of the actual revenue of the Federal Government for 2020, that’s, N3.9trn, prescribed by Section 38(2) of the CBN Act 2007. SERAP notes that five-per cent of N3.9trn is N197bn.

“While Section 38(1) of the CBN Act allows the Bank to grant overdrafts to the Federal Government to address any temporary deficiency of budget revenue, sub-section 2 provides that any outstanding overdraft ‘shall not exceed five-per cent of the previous year’s actual revenue of the Federal Government’.”

Meanwhile, no specific date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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