SERAP sues Tinubu over alleged missing $3.4bn IMF loan

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has filed a lawsuit against President Bola Tinubu over “the failure to probe the grim allegations that $3.4 billion loan obtained by Nigeria from the International Monetary Fund to finance the budget and respond to COVID-19 is missing, diverted or unaccounted for.”

The allegations are contained in the recently published 2020 Nigeria’s annual audited report by the Auditor-General of the Federation.

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/269/2024 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP is asking the court “to direct and compel President Tinubu to probe the allegations that $3.4 billion loan obtained by Nigeria from the IMF to finance the budget and respond to COVID-19 is missing, diverted or unaccounted for.”

SERAP is also seeking, “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Tinubu to ensure the effective prosecution of anyone suspected to be responsible for the alleged mismanagement and diversion of the $3.4 billion IMF loan obtained by Nigeria to finance the budget and respond to the COVID- 19 pandemic.”

SERAP is also seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Tinubu to ensure the full recovery of the missing $3.4 billion IMF loan obtained by Nigeria to finance the budget and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In the suit, SERAP is arguing that, “Investigating these grave allegations, bringing suspected perpetrators to justice, and recovering any missing IMF loan would contribute to addressing the country’s economic crisis and debt burden.”

SERAP also argued that “The findings by the Auditor-General suggest a grave violation of the public trust, the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended), national anti corruption laws, and the country’s obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption.”

According to SERAP, “Servicing IMF loan that is allegedly missing, diverted or unaccounted for is double jeopardy for Nigerians—they can neither see nor benefit from the projects for which the loan was approved; yet, they are made to pay back both the loan and accrued interests.”

SERAP also stressed that “Unless the President is directed and compelled to get to the bottom of these damning revelations, suspected perpetrators would continue to enjoy impunity for their crimes and enjoy the fruits of their crimes.”

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Andrew Nwankwo, read in part: “There is a legitimate public interest in ensuring justice and accountability for these serious allegations. Granting the reliefs sought would end the impunity of perpetrators and ensure justice for victims of corruption.

“Granting the reliefs sought would facilitate the effective implementation of the recommendations by the Auditor-General in the 2020 annual report that the missing $3.4 billion IMF loan be fully recovered and remitted to the public treasury and those responsible be sanctioned and handed over to anti corruption agencies.”

“The allegations of corruption in the spending of IMF loans documented by the Auditor-General undermine economic development of the country, trap the majority of Nigerians in poverty and deprive them of opportunities.”

“According to the 2020 annual audited report by the Auditor-General of the Federation published last week, the US$3.4 billion emergency financial assistance obtained from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to finance the budget and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic is missing, diverted, or unaccounted for.”

“According to the Auditor-General, no information or document was provided to justify the movement and spending of the Fund.”

“The Auditor-General has recommended that the money should be fully recovered and remitted to the public treasury and for the evidence of remittance to be forwarded to the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly.”

Joined in the suit as Respondent is Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

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