SERAP asks court to stop Buhari’s N26bn vote for travels, meals

SERAP asks court to stop Buhari’s N26bn vote for travels, meals

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to stop the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), from spending N26 billion in the Presidency’s 2022 budget on local and foreign travels, meals and refreshments, sitting allowance, welfare package, and office building.

The suit was filed on November 5 on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare, and Adelanke Aremo.

In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1361/2021, SERAP is seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to cut the N26bn 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.”

SERAP is also seeking “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.”

The organisation argued that the government would continue to borrow to fund the country’s budget until there is a substantial cut in the cost of governance; hence, it is in the public interest to stop the government from spending huge amount of money on these items as persistent borrowing is neither sustainable nor fair to Nigerians.

SERAP said, “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.

“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.

“Cutting waste and apparently unnecessary spending would go a long way in addressing the budget deficit and debt problems. The proposed spending is unsustainable, and would take away critical funding to provide access to quality healthcare and education.

“Public officers are mere custodians of public records. Nigerians are entitled to know how the commonwealth is being utilised, managed, and administered in a democratic setting.”

SERAP stated that according to reports, the proposed N26bn on travels, meals, refreshments, and the presidential wing of the State House Clinic is more than the proposed allocations for ongoing and new projects in 14 teaching hospitals combined, which is about N19.17bn.

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

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