By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK, 22 May 2023 (IDN) — Outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari has been ordered to account for a $460 million loan from a Chinese bank to pay for a closed circuit TV (CCTV) project that failed to materialize.
Minister of Finance Zainab Ahmed reportedly has been unable to explain the loan to be used for the CCTV project designed to tackle crime and insecurity in the country.
The court has now ordered the government to publish the total amount of money paid to Chinese Eximbank for the installation of 2,000 cameras in Lagos and Abuja, and specific details of the names of the companies and contractors and status of the implementation of the project.
Justice Emeka Nwite issued the order after a Freedom of Information request filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).
The CCTV contract was initially awarded to the Goodluck Jonathan administration to be funded from a $600 million financing portfolio secured as a soft credit loan. The loan had interest repayable in 10 years, according to a report by Punch media.
The project failed to materialize yet Nigeria continued to make payments on the loan. The Buhari government that inherited the liability declined to provide any information on the project.
“We are servicing the loan,” the minister was reported to say, “but I have no information on the status of the CCTV.”
When Ms Ahmed failed to provide information on the project status, SERAP sent a letter requesting detailed information about it.
The letter asked the minister to provide details, including the amount paid to contractors and any and all companies concerning the project.
Honorary Justice Emeka Nwite, in his ruling, agreed with SERAP that “there is a reasonable cause of action against the government. Accounting for the spending of the $460 million Chinese loan is in the public’s interest.”
“The Minister of Finance is in charge of the finance of the country and cannot be oblivious of the amount of money paid to the contractors for the Abuja CCTV contract or for the money meant for the construction of the headquarters of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB). [IDN-InDepthNews]
Photo: Outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
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