Court Gives Fresh Orders to FG Over $460m CCTV Loan

The Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the Federal Government to account for the spending of a $460m Chinese loan to fund “the failed Abuja Closed-Circuit Television project.”

In a statement signed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, the court also ordered the government to “publish the total amount of money paid to Chinese and local companies and contractors and specific details of the names of the companies and contractors and status of the implementation of the project.”

According to the statement, signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, Justice Emeka Nwite made the orders while delivering judgment on a Freedom of Information suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1447/2019, filed by SERAP against the government.

SERAP said the suit followed the disclosure in 2019 by the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, that “Nigeria was servicing the loan,” adding that she had “no explanations on the status of the project.”

“We are servicing the loan. I have no information on the status of the CCTV project,” she was quoted to have said.

In his judgment, Justice Nwite agreed with SERAP that “there is a reasonable cause of action against the government. Accounting for the spending of the $460m Chinese loan is in the interest of the public. It will be inimical for the court to refuse SERAP’s application for judicial review of the government’s action.”

Justice Nwite ordered the FG to provide the details clarifying whether the sum of N1.5bn allegedly paid for the contract meant to construct the headquarters of the Code of Conduct Bureau was part of another loan obtained from China.

The judge held, “SERAP’s core objectives are to promote human rights, transparency and accountability and anti-corruption in Nigeria.

“I am of the humble view that there is a reasonable cause of action against the government [through the Minister of Finance] and I so hold that SERAP has made out a case to be entitled to the reliefs sought.

“The law is well settled that where a document or letter is sent by post, it is the law that is taken or presumed to have been delivered.

“Following this principle of law and relying on exhibit OS2, SERAP’s Freedom of Information request sent to Ms. Ahmed is deemed to have been delivered. Therefore, the averment by the government (through her) that they were not served with the letter is hereby discountenancedld.”

The judge gave an order “compelling the government (through the Minister of Finance) to provide and make available to SERAP information on the total amount of money paid to contractors, with specific details of names of companies local contractors involved, from the $460m loan obtained in 2010 from China by the Federal Government to fund the failed Abuja CCTV contract.”



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