SERAP files contempt suit against Malami over recovered loot

By Olaolu Oladipo, Lagos

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has commenced committal to prison hearings against the Federal Government, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami(SAN) and Accountant-General of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Idris.

The Form 49, “notice to show cause why order of committal should not be made” was filed at the Federal High Court, Lagos before Justice Muhammed Idris last week by SERAP.

The Executive Director of SERAP, Mr. Adetokunbo Mumui in a statement on Sunday wrote that the action is “following the service on Mr Malami and Alhaji Idris of Form 48 contempt suit, and the certified true copy of the judgment.”

Justice Idris had on February 26, ordered Federal Government through the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and Accountant-General of the Federation to provide SERAP with up to date information on the spending of recovered stolen funds since the return of democracy in 1999.

According to the ruling of the court, the information to be released to SERAP include “specific details on the total amount of recovered stolen public assets by governments since 1999; the amount that has been spent from the recovered stolen public assets and the objects of such spending; as well as details and location of specific projects on which recovered stolen public assets were spent”.

The trial judge had entered judgment against the federal government and granted all the reliefs sought by SERAP.

The 69-page judgment in suit no: FHC/IKJ/CS/248/2011 signed by Honourable Justice Mohammed Idris reads in part: “Transparency in the decision-making process and access to information upon which decisions have been made can enhance accountability.”

Mumuni said in the statement that, “Despite the service of both form 48 and the certified true copy of the judgment on both the Attorney General of the Federation and the Accountant-General of the Federation, they have failed and/or neglected to acknowledge the judgment let alone obey it.”

“It has become painfully clear since the judgment was delivered that this government has no plan to enforce it. It’s dismaying that a government, which builds its reputation on combating grand corruption has not embraced the enormous opportunities the judgment provides to open the book on what exactly happened to recovered loot.

“It’s absolutely unacceptable to take the court,which is the guardian of justice in this country,for a ride. A democratic state based on the rule of law cannot exist or function, if the government ignores and/or fails to abide by Court orders,” Mumuni said.

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