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SERAP wants court to stop Buhari from spending N26bn on travels, meals, others

Socio–Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit asking the Federal High Court in Abuja to stop President Muhammadu Buhari from spending N26billion in the 2022 presidency budget on local and foreign travels, meals and refreshments, sitting allowance, welfare package and office building.

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1361/2021 filed last Friday, SERAP sought an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to cut the N26billion presidency budget on local and foreign travels, meals and refreshments, and to send a supplementary appropriation bill to the National Assembly to reflect the reduction.

It also sought an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to publish spending details on the State House Medical Centre since May 29, 2015 to date and to redirect some of the money on travels and meals to improve public healthcare facilities across the country.

SERAP argued that the government would continue to borrow to fund the country’s budget until there was a substantial cut to the cost of governance.

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Adelanke Aremo said cutting waste and apparently unnecessary spending would go a long way in addressing the budget deficit and debt problems.

“It is in the public interest to stop the government from spending so much money on these items. Persistent borrowing is neither sustainable nor fair to the Nigerian people. The huge spending by the presidency is neither necessary nor in the public interest, especially in the face of the country’s dire economic position, the scant allocations to education and health, and the growing level of borrowing by the Federal Government to fund the 2022 budget.”

The group alleged that the proposed N26 billion on travels, meals, refreshments and the presidential wing of the State House Clinic was more than the proposed allocations for ongoing and new projects in 14 teaching hospitals combined.

“The Buhari administration has constitutional and fiduciary duties to ensure a responsible budget spending, and the well-being and prosperity of Nigerians. Some of the proposed spending could be better allocated to improve access of poor Nigerians to basic public goods and services.

Any spending of public funds should stay within the limits of constitutional responsibilities, and oath of office by public officers, as well as comply with Chapter 2 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) relating to fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy.

Unless the reliefs sought are granted, the Federal Government will continue to benefit from the breach of the law, and the proposed spending of N26billion would leave the poorest and most vulnerable people without access to essential public goods and services, and burden the next generation.”

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