Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit asking the Federal High Court in Abuja “to restrain and stop President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government from borrowing an estimated N895bn of Nigerians’ money in the form of their unclaimed dividends and balances in dormant accounts, under the guise of the patently unlawful, unconstitutional, and discriminatory legislation known as ‘the Finance Act, 2020.’”
The suit is connected to the recent move by the Federal Government to take over and borrow unclaimed dividends and dormant account balances owned by Nigerians in any bank in the country.
The legislation however excludes dormant official bank accounts by all branches of government and their agencies.
In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/31/2021 filed by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Adelanke Aremo, last Friday, SERAP is seeking “an order of perpetual injunction restraining and stopping President Buhari from demanding, taking over, borrowing, and collecting Nigerians’ money in the form of their unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts or transferring and moving the money into a trust fund known as ‘Unclaimed Funds Trust Fund”.
In the suit, SERAP is arguing that “the Federal Government should not be allowed to borrow Nigerians’ money. Borrowing unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts owned by ordinary Nigerians would negatively affect their right to an adequate standard of living, and access to clean water, quality healthcare and education.
“Despite Nigeria’s dwindling oil revenue, the growing level of public debt, and widespread poverty, public officers including the President, Vice President, governors and their deputies, and members of the National Assembly have refused to cut their emoluments, allowances and security votes. At the same time, millions of Nigerians continue to bear the brunt of mismanagement and corruption.”
Joined in the suit as Defendants are: Mr Abubakar Malami SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice; the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; the Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; and the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Ms Zainab Ahmed.