Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit asking the Federal High Court, Abuja to “direct and compel 36 state governors to use public funds budgeted for security votes, and life pensions for former governors to fund healthcare facilities and to address the impact of COVID-19 on millions of Nigerians, as well as publish details of spending on COVID-19 in their respective states.”
In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/757/2020 filed last Friday, SERAP is seeking: “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus to direct and compel the 36 state governors to disclose how much they have individually collected from the Federal Government as COVID-19 support, from private donations and other sources, as well as details of spending of any such funds and donations.”
SERAP is also seeking: “a declaration that the failure of the 36 state governors to respond in a satisfactory way to SERAP’s requests amount to a fundamental breach of the FoI Act, the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended), and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”
The suit followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information (FoI) requests dated 25 April 2020, expressing concern that: “many state governors are spending scarce state resources to pay themselves security votes and their predecessors’ life pensions rather than using public funds to effectively respond to COVID-19 by investing in and improving public healthcare facilities in their states.”
The organization revealed that only two governors—Kaduna State governor, Mr Nasir El-Rufai and Kwara State governor, Mr Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq—responded to its FoI requests. While “governor El-Rufai claimed that the FoI is inapplicable in Kaduna state, governor Abdulrazaq stated that the information requested by SERAP is protected from disclosure by the FoI.”
Governor El-Rufai claimed: “The FoI is binding only on the Federal Government and its agencies, the Federal Capital Territory, and the states that choose to domesticate it. We are therefore not bound to respond to your request using the threat of an FoI Act that is inapplicable in our State.”
Governor El-Rufai also said: “Should you choose to rephrase your request as a citizen or voter in Kaduna, to whom we are accountable under OGP commitments, I will direct the relevant departments of government to respond. Our version of FoI is with the State House of Assembly for domestication.”
Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq in his own response to SERAP said: “the category of the information you requested is protected from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.”
But SERAP in the suit said: “By a combined reading of the FoI Act, the Nigerian Constitution, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which is applicable throughout the country, governors El-Rufai and Abdulrazaq and other 34 governors ought to be compelled to invest in healthcare facilities, and to tell Nigerians how they are spending COVID-19 funds and donations in their states.”
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its counsel, Kolawole Oluwadare and Atinuke Adejuyigbe read, in part: “The 36 governors have a responsibility to act in the interest of Nigerian citizens and residents in their states under the Code of Conduct for Public Officers [Fifth Schedule Part 1] of the Nigerian Constitution, and Oath of Office of Governor of a State in Seventh Schedule to the Constitution.”
“The crux of SERAP’s argument is better expressed in the following questions: What is the economic benefit of appropriation of security votes and pension to former governors and deputy governors to the citizens of Nigeria during a pandemic? Why should the governors spend so much on a relatively negligible percentage of the population at the expense of the majority of the citizens?”
“The office of a governor is created by Section 176 of the Constitution, and the governors are vested with powers to act as members of the executive pursuant to Section 5 and  of the Constitution. These statutory functions, among other duties of the governors, are guided by rules including the Oath of Office of Governor of a State.”
“The oath of office of governors is integral to the honest performance of their functions in the public interest. The oath is considered of such importance that Section 185 of the Constitution provides that the governors can perform their respective official functions only after taking the oath of office.”
“It can be inferred that appropriation of hundreds of millions of Naira for security votes and payment of pensions to former governors in the face of glaring socio-economic effects of COVID-19 on citizens and residents can only be in the personal interests of the governors and their colleagues, in clear conflict with the public interest and well-being and prosperity of the country and its people.”
“Majority of Nigerians continue to live in poverty and without access to basic necessities of life such as healthcare, and clean water, as established by the National Bureau of Statistics in its 2019 Report.”
“The unconscionable allocations to security votes and pensions for former governors are happening at a critical time that Nigeria requires urgent infrastructural development to lift itself out of the quagmire of poverty and underdevelopment in response to the harsh realities of COVID-19 pandemic on the people.”
“The 36 governors ought to be directed and compelled to use the budgets for security votes and life pensions for former governors to improve the healthcare facilities in their respective states, provide palliatives and reliefs, and to address the impact of COVID-19 on citizens and residents of their respective states.”
“The 36 governors ought to be directed and compelled to provide details of palliatives and reliefs that they have provided to the most vulnerable people, including the list of beneficiaries, details of what they are doing to improve testing for COVID-19, isolation centres, as well as ensure safe protective equipment for health workers.”
“The 36 governors ought to be directed and compelled to provide details of what they are doing to ensure full respect for human rights of everyone and access to justice for victims of human rights violations and abuses during and linked to COVID-19, as well as any support they are providing to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to improve its capacity to respond to COVID-19.”
“This suit is of public concern as it bothers on issues of national interest, public welfare, and interest, social justice, good governance, transparency and accountability. The right to truth allows Nigerians to gain access to information on what their state governments have done or are doing to cushion the socio-economic effects of COVID-19 on Nigerians.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
COVID-19: Coalition Salutes FG, NPHCDA Overall Early Arrival Of Vaccine
With the expected arrival of coronavirus vaccines into the country on Tuesday, the National Coalition on Vaccine Awareness and Administration (NCVAA) has applauded the Federal Government and National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA).
The group, at a press conference on Monday in Abuja, noted that this is a big step in containing the rampaging contagion that has consumed millions across the world.
Nigeria will become the third West African country to benefit from the COVAX facility after Ghana and the Ivory Coast when it receives 3.92 million doses of the vaccine.
And the convener, Gabriel Agogo, speaking on behalf of the coalition, said Nigeria can not be left alone in the global immunisation against the disease, especially with the conspiracy theories and propaganda being peddled around.
He urged all Nigerians to become agents of this public awareness and actively partake in the immunization to protect ourselves, our families and the public health of the nation.
The NCVAA, however, called on all Nigerians irrespective of partisan, religious and ethnic affiliations to come out en mass to mobilize their families and friends for the Covid-19 vaccine administration as a way of totally defeating the spread of the coronavirus disease and saving humanity from its destruction.
Read the full statement below:
The leadership and members of the National Coalition on Vaccine Awareness and Administration (NCVAA) salutes and welcome all of you to this press conference. We also salute the courage and perseverance of Nigerians in the firm determination to fight Covid-19 to a standstill by observing the Government protocols to curtail its spread. Our case would have been worse, had Nigerians failed to imbibe self-discipline.
As all of you are aware, we have lost thousands of our brothers and sisters to the pandemic since it broke out in Wuhan, China in February 2020 and became a world health threat. And many more people infected by the virus are still hospitalized in different hospitals in the country. We prayerfully wish them a speedy recovery.
But the good news is that majority of Nigerians are uninfected by the Covid-19 pandemic. It is this larger population of Nigerians free from the venom of the Covid-19 pandemic that our Government is more interested in insulating from the deadly disease. It is in this light that we have decided to create public awareness of the arrival of the Covid-19 vaccine for immunization through this press conference and other necessary public enlightenment activities, to attract massive public awareness to it.
Therefore, we have decided to address Nigerians and draw their attention to the arrival of the Covid-19 vaccine in the country and the kick-start of the Covid-19 vaccine immunization exercise nation-wide. The vaccine is a proactive public health safety measure, which we believe will automatically arrest the spread of Covid-19 and put a halt to the other public inconveniences it causes if all of us avail ourselves to the immunization which is free of charge to everyone.
We wish to let all Nigerians know that the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has acquired and taken possession of millions of dosages of the Covid-19 vaccine. It is a scientifically approved immunization vaccine, certified by the World Health Organization (WHO) for onward worldwide circulation to fight the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
Nigeria cannot afford to be left out of this global trend. Nigerians should therefore emulate other very religious nations like Saudi Arabia, Rome, India, Australia, Sweden and a host of other countries worldwide which have accepted the Covid-19 vaccine and immunized their people with it. These countries have overcome the Covid-19 pandemic as a result of the intake of the Covid-19 vaccine. And with our collective resolve now, we shall also overcome it.
We find it imperative to emphasize this point because of the underground campaigns, conspiracy theories and propaganda peddled by perpetual anti-progressive forces in the country, who have aligned the Covid-19 vaccine to some unproven and barbaric death claims. There is no scintilla of truth in these negative assertions on the Covid-19 vaccine
Permit us to sound it loud and clear that the Covid-19 vaccine is approved by WHO, the global health body, after several scientific and clinical tests, before certifying it as safe for all humanity. So, in Nigerian, we must guide against repeating the same mistake which opposed the idea of launching a G5 network for telecoms in Nigeria. We are too enlightened to be deceived by those who wish us no good.
Nigeria is a very strategic country in the African continent, which cannot afford indifference or antipathy in the global fight against the deadly Covid-19 epidemic. NCVAA is aware of the campaigns of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) on the Covid-19 vaccine and has decided to add its voice to it. We expect all Nigerians to become agents of this public awareness and actively partake in the immunization to protect ourselves, our families and the public health of the nation.
NCVAA is hereby calling on all Nigerians irrespective of partisan, religious and ethnic affiliations to come out en mass to mobilize their families and friends for the Covid-19 vaccine administration as a way of totally defeating the spread of the coronavirus disease and saving humanity from its destruction. We must resolve today to victoriously conquer the Covid-19 pandemic, in the same manner, we defeated Ebola, bird flu, SARS which occurred years back.
The Covid-19 vaccine is advantageous in several ways. Socially, the immunization against Covid-19 will secure us against contracting the coronavirus disease and ensure greater chances of our freedom from other allied ailments which comes with the Coronavirus and restore our social and communal interactions.
The Covid-19 vaccine is not only capable of saving the lives of the entire humanity, but it can completely prevent hospitalizations’ and the mass deaths we have experienced in the past over Covid-19. It will save us from agonies and pains associated with it. All conspiracy’s theories against the vaccine should therefore be discarded.
Also, medical scientists and researchers who have painstakingly worked and developed the Covid-19 vaccine have attested to its nearly 100% effectiveness at preventing other related severe illnesses related to it, like the common cold amongst others. Taking the vaccine is akin to the popular African proverb which alludes to someone using one stone to kill two birds.
Furthermore, a general public immunization against Covid-19 nation-wide in Nigeria would ease the Government lockdowns and other disproportionate or stifling public health measures, which causes us varying disruptions in our everyday operations. This is why we have found it expedient to endorse the NPHCDA Campaigns. It is now a direct invitation to every Nigerian not only to take the vaccine but become the chief propagandists of this good message of redemption from the grip of Covid-19.
NCVAA profoundly thanks the Almighty God for His Grace upon us; we salute the medical scientists for their wisdom in developing the Covid-19 vaccine and finally, the FGN under President Buhari for securing the vaccines and their early delivery to us. It shows we have a Government and a leader who is sensitive to the public health of Nigerians. We immensely thank all of you.
Thank you all and journey mercies to your various destinations.
Insecurity: Group Demands Collective Action By Governors
The Coalition for Truth and Justice (CTJ) has charged state governors to rise to the occasion as chief security officers of their states and stop playing politics with human lives.
The coalition, which made the call at a press conference, on Monday, in Abuja, also noted that collective action is required to end the tide of insecurity across the nation.
In his address, the head of the secretariat, Comrade Ohene Dominic, said the lackadaisical attitude of some governors has escalated criminal activities in the country, adversely causing untold hardship on the people.
Dominic said their failure to commit resources to security has made schools and other places of importance more susceptible to attacks by unscrupulous criminal elements.
According to him, these governors should be treated as saboteurs whose interests is on how they can amass wealth by dipping their hands in state coffers to sustain their lavish lifestyles.
The Coalition for Truth and Justice therefore called on all well-meaning Nigerians to henceforth begin to demand accountability from the various state governors.
On their part, the coalition, however, urged the governors to wake up from their slumber and do the needful as this is not the time for playing to the gallery.
Read the full statement below:
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome to this press conference standing on the existing protocol.
The peculiarities of time occasioned by the unwholesome activities of criminal elements across that country have once again brought out the national question on how state governors have abdicated their responsibilities as Chief Security Officers of their states.
It is indeed worrisome that this trend has continued unabated and largely responsible for the escalation of the activities of criminal elements across the country which has indeed caused untold hardship on the people.
The various cases of kidnappings and armed banditry in some states are consequences of the lackadaisical attitude of some governors that have been engaged with playing politics to the detriment of human lives.
It is unacceptable for this trend to continue because of the larger consequences which if not abated could spiral out of control and Nigeria might be engulfed with acts of criminalities, so much so that might lead the country on the path of regression.
The Coalition for Truth and Justice as a critical stakeholder in the country is aware that some governors have deliberately allowed criminal elements to have a field day in their states because of what they aim to achieve politically. Consequently, we must ask questions hence this press conference to put issues in proper perspective before the generality of Nigeria towards making the country safe for all concerned.
It is our considered view that if the various state governors had been alive to their responsibilities, the embarrassing incidences of kidnappings of school students in public schools would not have been possible.
It is indeed shameful that some state governors would commit huge resources to pursue endeavours that do not have a direct impact on the lives of the citizens while ignoring the need to provide adequate security for schools and other places of importance that are susceptible to attacks by unscrupulous criminal elements.
It is gladding that this much was highlighted by a fellow governor wherein he stated that governors have failed in providing security in their states in their capacity as Chief Security Officers. It remains despicable that the song on the lips of most governors is that they are not in charge of the security of their states; we beg to ask what they have been doing with the security votes that are accruing to states monthly. How have these monies meant for security spent by the various state governors?
If the governors also claim not to have the required funds to provide security in their states, we also beg to ask where they get the funds with which they pursue their political agenda during times of elections.
It remains a sad tale that this anomaly has thrived over the years and the various state governors have been playing politics with human lives and they seem to have no grouse with how innocent school children are abducted from their dormitories. They also have no grouse with how under their nose, militant groups are grouping and entrenching acts of violence that have led to scores of death and destruction of properties.
It is thus our stand that the various state governors can be regarded as saboteurs whose interests lie in how they can amass wealth by dipping their hands in state coffers to sustain their lavish lifestyles.
The Coalition for Truth and Justice is using this medium to call on all well-meaning Nigerians to henceforth begin to demand accountability from the various state governors with how they have been utilizing the security votes that run into billions of naira monthly.
It is also our stance that the federal government must begin the process of holding state governors accountable for avoidable security breaches in their states and taking steps to ensure that monies meant for security are not diverted to private pockets.
The Coalition for Truth and Justice is using this medium to appeal to the federal government to withhold allocations to states whose governors have been found wanting in the discharge of their responsibilities as Chief Security Officers of their states.
This is our opinion would make the governors wake up to their responsibilities and ensuring that they live up to expectations in this critical task at hand because if funds are continually made available to these non-performing governors, it would be tantamount to economic waste.
The Coalition for Truth and Justice is of the considered opinion that Nigerians must begin the process of tasking the various state governors on accountability and commitment to entrenching good governance for the task at hand requires all hands to be on deck.
The state governors must also wake up from their slumber and do the needful as this is not the time for playing to the gallery. Nigerian Governors must wake- up to their responsibilities and stop playing politics
Thank you for your attention in this regard and we expect to see results in the coming days, weeks, and months in Nigeria.
God bless Nigeria.
RCCG Prayer Walk: Province 11 Pastor Prays For An End To COVID-19
Pastor Tunde Benjamislani , The Pastor RCCG Throne Room Parish Transcorp Hilton Abuja Parish , prayed for a permanent end to covid-19.
The Pastor stated this in Abuja while leading the global maiden prayer walk of the Redeemed Christian Church of God.
The Pastor stated that the Prayer walk was a global one going on co-currently in all the 119 nations of the world .
He also stated the prayer walk was an instruction received by the general overseer Pastor E.A Adeboye
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