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Failed Abuja CCTV project: Court orders Buhari govt to account for $460m Chinese loan

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Failed Abuja CCTV project: Court orders Buhari govt to account for $460m Chinese loan

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A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to answer for how a $460 million Chinese loan was used to fund the failed Abuja Closed-Circuit Television project.

 

The court said the government must publish the total amount of money paid to Chinese and local companies and contractors, precise details of the identities of the companies and contractors, and the status of the implementation of the project.

Hon. Judge Emeka Nwite issued the directives in his ruling in the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project’s FHC/ABJ/CS/1447/2019 Freedom of Information lawsuit.

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.’ She reportedly said, “We are servicing the loan. I have no information on the status of the CCTV project.”

In his judgement, Justice Nwite agreed with SERAP that “there is 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.”

Justice Nwite also said that “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.”

He also ordered 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.”

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