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SERAP Drags Tinubu to Court 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.”

SERAP Drags Tinubu to Court over Alleged Missing $3.4Bn IMF Loan

President Bola Tinubu

 

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 anticorruption 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 anticorruption agencies.’”

“The allegations of corruption in the spending of IMF loan 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.”

“The Auditor-General has also recommended that anyone suspected to be involved should be ‘sanctioned and handed over to the EFCC and ICPC for investigation and prosecution, as provided for in paragraph 3112 of the Financial Regulations’.”

“According to SERAP’s information, Nigeria has signed an agreement to spread the repayment of the IMF loan/interests from 2023 to 2027. The first instalment, due in 2023, is worth $497.17 million. The second instalment, due in 2024, will be worth $1.76 billion. The third instalment, due in 2025, will be worth $865.27 million.”

“The final two instalments, due in 2026 and 2027, will each be worth $33.99 million. These instalments will only be interest payments.”

“Impunity for corruption in the management of loans obtained by Nigeria will continue as long as high-ranking public officials go largely unpunished for their alleged crimes.”

“The consequences of corruption are felt by citizens on a daily basis. Corruption exposes them to additional costs to pay for health, education and administrative services.”

“The Nigerian government has a sacred duty to ensure that the country’s loans including those obtained from the IMF are transparently and accountably used solely for the purposes for which the loans are obtained, and for the effective development of public goods and services as well as the general public interests.”

“Section 13 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] imposes clear responsibility on the Nigerian government to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of Chapter 2 of the constitution. Section 15(5) imposes the obligations on the government to ‘abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power’ in the country.”

“Under Section 16(1) of the Constitution, the Nigerian government has a responsibility to ‘secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity.’”

“Section 16(2) further provides that, ‘the material resources of the nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good.’”

“Similarly, articles 5 and 9 of the UN Convention against Corruption also impose legal obligations on the Nigerian government to ensure proper management of public affairs and public funds including loans obtained by the country, and to promote sound and transparent administration of public affairs.”

“The UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party obligates the Nigerian government to effectively prevent and investigate allegations of corruption and mismanagement of public funds including loans obtained by the country.”

“Specifically, article 26 of the UN convention requires the Nigerian government to ensure ‘effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions’ including criminal and non-criminal sanctions, in cases of grand corruption.”

“Article 26 complements the more general requirement of article 30, paragraph 1, that sanctions must take into account the gravity of the corruption allegations.”

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

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


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History as Nigeria Launches Mew 5-in-1 Meningitis Vaccine

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Nigeria has launched the new Men5CV vaccine, which offers protection against five strains of the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria (meningococcus) responsible for meningitis.

History as Nigeria Launches Mew 5-in-1 Meningitis Vaccine

Nigeria becomes the first country globally to launch the vaccine, which is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Men5CV vaccine rollout is a significant advance in the fight against meningitis, as it provides broader protection than the previous vaccines.

It shields against the major strains A, C, W, Y and X of meningococcal bacteria in a single shot. Existing vaccines sold in Africa are only effective against strain A.

The introduction of Men5CV is particularly crucial for Nigeria, one of the 26 hyper-endemic countries in Africa, which recently experienced an outbreak leading to 1,742 suspected cases.

In response, a vaccination campaign was conducted in March 2024 to reach more than one million individuals aged from one to 29.

The vaccine’s development, spanning 13 years, was a collaborative effort between PATH and the Serum Institute of India, with funding from the UK Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

The Men5CV vaccine utilises the same technology as the MenAfriVac vaccine that has eradicated meningococcal A epidemics in Nigeria.

In July 2023, the WHO prequalified the meningitis vaccine, branded as MenFive. It went on to issue a formal recommendation for its launch in October.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, provided funding for the vaccine and emergency vaccination activity, and allocated resources for the Men5CV rollout in December.

The vaccine is now available for outbreak response through the emergency stockpile managed by the International Coordinating Group on Vaccine Provision.

Mass preventive campaigns involving the Men5CV vaccine rollout across sub-Saharan Africa’s ‘Meningitis Belt’ are expected to commence in 2025.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. WHO director-general, stated: “Meningitis is an old and deadly foe, but this new vaccine holds the potential to change the trajectory of the disease, preventing future outbreaks and saving many lives.

“Nigeria’s rollout brings us one step closer to our goal to eliminate meningitis by 2030.”


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NAFDAC Alerts Nigerians to EU Ban on Dex Soap

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National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has alerted Nigerians on the ban on Dex Luxury Bar Soap (No 6 Mystic Flower), by the European Union (EU).

NAFDAC Alerts Nigerians to EU Ban on Dex Soap

The notification is contained in a public alert with No. 012/2024, signed by Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, director-general, NAFDAC, and issued to newsmen in Abuja on Sunday.

“The product does not comply with the cosmetic products regulation; it also contains Butyphenyl Methylpropional (BMHCA), which is prohibited in cosmetic products due to its risk of harming the reproductive system.

“It also causes harm to the health of unborn children and may cause skin sensitisation.

“It is as a result of the defective nature of the product that the EU banned it.

“The products is not in NAFDAC database; importers, distributors, retailers and consumers are to exercise caution and vigilance within the supply chain,” she said.

NAFDAC boss urged marketers and consumers to avoid the importation, distribution, sale and use of the product, stressing that product’s authenticity and physical condition must be carefully checked.

She enjoined members of the public in possession of the product to discontinue sale or use, and submit stock to the nearest NAFDAC office.


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EFCC Discovers Fraudulent COVID Funds, World Bank Loan in Poverty Ministry

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Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it has discovered shady dealings involving COVID-19 funds, World Bank loan, as well as Abacha recovered loot at the Ministry of Poverty Alleviation and Humanitarian Affairs.

EFCC Discovers Fraudulent COVID Funds, World Bank Loan in Poverty Ministry

In a Sunday statement, Dele Oyewale, EFCC spokesperson, said the funds were released to the Ministry by the Federal Government to execute poverty alleviation programmes.

The anti-graft agency said its recent investigation into the affairs of the ministry led to the recovery of N32.7 billion and $445,000 so far.

The EFCC added that “suspended officials” of the Ministry were linked to the fraudulent practice, saying those found wanting will be prosecuted accordingly.

“At the outset of investigations, past and suspended officials of the Humanitarian Ministry were invited by the Commission and investigations into the alleged fraud involving them have yielded the recovery of N32.7billion and $445,000 so far,” the statement reads

“Discreet investigations by the EFCC have opened other fraudulent dealings involving Covid-19 funds, the World Bank loan, Abacha recovered loot released to the Ministry by the Federal Government to execute its poverty alleviation mandate. Investigations have also linked several interdicted and suspended officials of the Ministry to the alleged financial malfeasance.

“It is instructive to stress that the Commission’s investigations are not about individuals. The EFCC is investigating a system and intricate web of fraudulent practices. Banks involved in the alleged fraud are being investigated. Managing Directors of the indicted banks have made useful statements to investigators digging into the infractions.

“Those found wanting will be prosecuted accordingly. Additionally, the EFCC has not cleared anyone allegedly involved in the fraud. Investigations are ongoing and advancing steadily. The public is enjoined to ignore any claim to the contrary.”

Recall that, Betta Edu, suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, announced she has no link with the N30 billion purportedly recovered by the EFCC.


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