Jonathan, Obasanjo, Yar’Adua Court orders ex-presidents' govts to account for recovered loot

The court held that successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999 “breached the fundamental principles of transparency.

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Goodluck Jonathan, late Musa Yardadua and Olusegun Obasanjo play

F - R: Former Presidents, Goodluck Jonathan, late Musa Yardadua and Olusegun Obasanjo.

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The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered President Muhammadu Buhari to make sure that his administration and that of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, and former President Goodluck Jonathan account fully for all recovered all stolen public funds.

In a landmark judgement on Friday, February 26, the court held that successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999 “breached the fundamental principles of transparency and accountability for failing to disclose details about the spending of recovered stolen public funds, including on a dedicated website.”

The judgment, which was delivered by Honourable Justice M.B. Idris, followed a Freedom of Information suit no: FHC/IKJ/CS/248/2011 brought by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

All the objections raised by the Federal Government were dismissed by Justice Idris as he upheld SERAP’s arguments. 

READ: ‘I’m not interested in political activities anymore,’ Obasanjo says

The details ordered by the court to be disclosed include: information on the total amount of recovered stolen public assets by each government; the amount of recovered stolen public assets spent by each government as well as the objects of such spending and the projects on which such funds were spent. 

Reacting to the judgement, SERAP deputy executive director, Olukayode Majekodunmi said: “This judgment confirms the persistent failure of successive governments starting from the Obasanjo government, to respect Nigerians’ right to a corruption-free society and to uphold constitutional and international commitments on transparency and accountability.

"The judgment is an important step towards reversing a culture of secrecy and corruption that has meant that high-ranking government officials continue to look after themselves at the expense of the well-being of majority of Nigerians, and development of the country.

“This is a crucial precedent that vindicates the right to a transparent and accountable government and affirms the human right of the Nigerian people to live a life free from want and fear. We are in the process of obtaining a certified copy of the around 60 pages judgment."

Majekodunmi said SERAP would ensure the full and effective enforcement of the judgment by all means necessary.

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