Nigerian government ordered to account for a $460m Chinese loan
A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to account for a $460 million Chinese loan to fund the abandoned Abuja Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) project.
Hon. Justice Emeka Nwite issued the order in his ruling in the FHC/ABJ/CS/1447/2019 Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).
The court also ordered the government to publish information about the project’s implementation, the total sum of money paid to Chinese and local companies and contractors, and specifics about the identities of the companies and contractors.
This disclosure is contained in a statement issued on Sunday, May 21, 2023, by SERAP and signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare.
The lawsuit came after Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, stated in 2019 that “Nigeria was servicing the loan,” adding that she had “no explanations on the status of the project.”
For context, SERAP filed a lawsuit in December 2019 against Ahmed for failing to disclose information and specific documents on the total amount of money paid to contractors from the $460 million loan obtained from China in 2010 to fund the failed Abuja Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) project.
SERAP also sued the federal government for failing to identify the contractors involved, explain why the government has continued to repay the loan and provide details on the project’s implementation status.
Justice Nwite said that because Ahmed is in charge of the nation’s finances, she can’t be unaware of the sums paid to Abuja CCTV contractors and the funds allocated for constructing the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) headquarters.
Justice Nwite issued some orders of mandamus against the Nigerian government, including directing and compelling the government [through the Minister of Finance] to provide the names of the local businesses and Chinese contractors who received funds from the $460 million loan for the financing of the Abuja CCTV contract as well as information on the project’s status of implementation.