Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit asking the Federal High Court in Abuja “to restrain and stop President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government from borrowing an estimated N895bn of Nigerians’ money in the form of their unclaimed dividends and balances in dormant accounts, under the guise of the patently unlawful, unconstitutional, and discriminatory legislation known as ‘the Finance Act, 2020.’”
The suit followed a recent move by the Federal Government to take over and borrow unclaimed dividends and dormant account balances owned by Nigerians in any bank in the country. But the same legislation explicitly excludes dormant official bank accounts by all branches of government and their agencies. In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/31/2021 filed last Friday, SERAP is seeking: “an order of perpetual injunction restraining and stopping President Buhari from demanding, taking over, borrowing, and collecting Nigerians’ money in the form of their unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts or transferring and moving the money into a trust fund known as ‘Unclaimed Funds Trust Fund’”.
In the suit, SERAP is arguing that “the Federal Government should not be allowed to borrow Nigerians’ money. Borrowing unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts owned by ordinary Nigerians would negatively affect their right to an adequate standard of living, and access to clean water, quality healthcare, and education.” According to SERAP: “Despite Nigeria’s dwindling oil revenue, the growing level of public debt, and widespread poverty, public officers including the President, Vice President, governors and their deputies, and members of the National Assembly have refused to cut their emoluments, allowances and security votes. At the same time, millions of Nigerians continue to bear the brunt of mismanagement and corruption.”