A former Senator, Shehu Sani has dragged the Muhammadu Buhari-led government over its failure to execute the Abuja CCTV project that cost the country $460 million.
Recall that the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) sued Zainab Ahmed, the finance minister, in December 2019 for failing to give information and precise documents on the entire amount of money paid to contractors from the $460 million loan secured in 2010 from China to build the Abuja metro project.
Ahmed had disclosed that Nigeria was servicing the loan, adding that she had no explanations on the status of the project.
Recently, Senator Shehu Sani who is also the President of the Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria tweeted, “Abuja CCTV project is a $460m monumental fraud; no cameras, no money, and no one is apprehended or investigated.”
In the meantime, an Abuja federal high court has mandated that the federal government account for the loan that was used to finance the “failed” Abuja closed-circuit television (CCTV) project.
Emeka Nwite, the judge, gave the order while delivering judgement in the freedom of information suit ‘FHC/ABJ/CS/1447/2019’ brought by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).
The judge ordered that the government publicize the exact sum of money paid to Chinese and local corporations and contractors, as well as precise information about the identity of the companies and contractors and the project’s execution.
According to his assessment, Nwite concurred with SERAP that there was a legitimate basis for a claim against the government. In his judgement, Nwite agreed with SERAP that there was a reasonable cause of action against the government.
“Accounting for the spending of the $460 million Chinese loan is in the public’s interest. It will be inimical for the court to refuse SERAP’s application for judicial review of the government’s action,” he said.
“The Minister of Finance is in charge of the finances of the country and cannot by any stretch of imagination be oblivious of the amount of money paid to the contractors for the Abuja CCTV contract and the money meant for the construction of the headquarters of the Code of Conduct Bureau.”
The judge mandated the government to provide the “details clarifying whether the sum of N1.5 billion paid for the failed contract meant to construct the headquarters of the Code of Conduct Bureau was part of another loan obtained from China”.
Nwite also granted an order of mandamus compelling the federal 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 $460 million loan obtained in 2010 from China by the Federal Government of Nigeria to fund the failed Abuja CCTV contract”.
The judgment reads: “An order of mandamus is hereby made directing and compelling the government (through the Minister of Finance) to provide the details of the local companies and Chinese contractors that have received funds from the $460 million loan for the finance of the Abuja CCTV contract as well as details of the status of implementation of the project.
“An order of mandamus is hereby made directing and compelling the government (through the Minister of Finance) to provide the details clarifying whether the sum of N1.5 billion mobilization fee reportedly paid to the contractors for the construction of the Headquarters of the Code of Conduct Bureau in Abuja was part of another loan from China.”