Federal High Court, Lagos has insisted on enforcement of the judgment ordering the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to publish widely the spending of recovered stolen funds since the return of democracy in 1999.
The details of the judgment are contained in the certified true copy sent by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, to Abubakar Malami (SAN), Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice. The 69-page judgment, dated March 24, 2016 and signed by Justice Mohammed Idris, read in part: “Transparency in the decision making process and access to information upon which decisions have been made can enhance accountability.
“Obedience to the rule of law by all citizens but more particularly those who publicly took oath of office to protect and preserve the Constitution is a desideratum to good governance and respect for the rule of law. In a constitutional democracy like ours, this is meant to be the norm. “I am of the view that on receipt of SERAP request, the government had the duty to respond to same.
If it does hold the information it must supply it within seven days from receipt of the request. Where a decision to withhold information is taken, the government/relevant authorities must inform the plaintiff of its reason.
In respect of the SERAP reliefs on recovered stolen funds since return of democracy in 1999, the government had kept mute. Let me say that they have no such power under the law.
“There is public interest in public authorities and high-profile individuals being accountable for the quality of their decision making. Ensuring that decisions have been made on the basis of quality legal advice is part of accountability.”