Court Grants SERAP Permission To Compel Power Ministry To Name Corrupt Contractors

The socio-economic rights and accountability project (SERAP) says the Federal High Court in Lagos has given the green light to its suit seeking to compel the Minister of Power Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola to disclose the names of corrupt contractors.

Justice Chuka Obiozor granted the order for leave following the hearing of an argument on exparte motion by SERAP’s counsel Mrs Adelanke Aremo.

In the suit number FHC/L/CS/105/19, SERAP is seeking reliefs to compel Mr Fashola “to provide specific details on the names and whereabouts of the contractors who collected public funds meant for electricity projects but disappeared with the money without executing any projects, starting from the return of democracy in 1999 to 2018.”

“It would be recalled that Mr Fashola had earlier this month written to SERAP promising: “to refer the request for details of alleged contractors and companies that collected money for electricity projects and failed to execute any projects to the Ministry’s agencies for necessary action and appropriate response.”

Mr Fashola’s response followed his letter to SERAP in February in which he said: “We have searched the Ministry’s record and the information you applied for is not held by the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing (Power Sector).”

However, SERAP disagreed with the response, saying: “The public expectation is that government information when in the hands of any public institutions and agencies, should be available to the public, as prescribed by the FOI Act. The FOI Act should always be used as an authority for disclosing information rather than withholding it.”

According to a statement issued by SERAP, Justice Obiozor also ruled that Fashola is put on notice and adjourned the matter to Thursday, April 11, 2019, for the hearing of arguments.

The group had in January issued a freedom of information request and sued Mr Fashola following allegations by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar that contractors who were paid hundred per cent up front for power projects disappeared with public funds without carrying out any work.

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