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Ex-Minister’s N729 Billion Spending Spree Under Scrutiny

A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered Sadiya Umar Farouq, Nigeria’s former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, to provide a detailed account of the N729 billion (U.S.$480,411,000) distributed to 24.3 million poor Nigerians over six months in 2021, following the Covid-19 pandemic.

This ruling came after the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) filed a Freedom of Information suit demanding transparency in the use of public funds.

The Freedom of Information Act, enacted in 2011, allows citizens to request information from government agencies, with some exceptions like classified or personal data.

SERAP’s suit aimed to compel the former minister to reveal how the N729 billion was spent, including the criteria for selecting beneficiaries and the amounts they received. They argued that the process was secretive and lacked transparency.

The court sided with SERAP and ordered the ex-minister to explain the selection process and the rationale for disbursing N5,000 (U.S.$3) to each of the 24.3 million poor Nigerians, a sum that represents five percent of Nigeria’s 2021 budget of N13.6 trillion (U.S.$8.9 billion).

In a statement, SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, celebrated the court’s decision, calling it “a victory for transparency and accountability in the spending of public funds.”

—Ezinwanne Onwuka reports for TruthNigeria from Abuja.

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