Ex-Minister Ordered to Account for N729 Billion Payments

Sadiya Umar-Farouk, the former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs

A Federal High Court in Lagos has directed Sadiya Umar-Farouk, the former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, to account for N729 billion disbursed to 24.3 million impoverished Nigerians over six months.

The court ordered Umar-Farouk to present a detailed list of beneficiaries, including the states covered and the specific payments per state. This ruling, issued by Hon. Justice Deinde Isaac Dipeolu, followed a Freedom of Information lawsuit (FHC/L/CS/853/2021) filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP). SERAP announced it had received the certified judgment copy last Friday.

Justice Dipeolu stated, “Under the Freedom of Information Act, the former minister is obligated to provide information to any individual, including SERAP. Thus, I mandate the former minister to disclose the expenditure details of N729 billion given to 24.3 million poor Nigerians in 2021.”

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The ruling further requires Umar-Farouk to reveal the selection process for beneficiaries and the payment mechanisms used. Additionally, the court demanded an explanation for the decision to allocate N5,000 to each of the 24.3 million recipients, which equates to five percent of Nigeria’s 2021 budget of N13.6 trillion.

Justice Dipeolu noted that the minister did not justify the refusal to release the requested information. SERAP had cited relevant sections of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, and the court agreed, issuing an order to compel the minister to provide the requested details.