SERAP to governors: Disclose details on spending of N625bn derivation refunds or face legal action



The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked governors of the nine oil-producing states to make public details of how they spent the oil derivation refunds from the federal government.


The presidency had, on December 2, announced that the states — Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers — received a total of N625.43 billion as 13 percent oil derivation, subsidy and SURE-P refunds from the federation account between 2021 and 2022.


In an open letter dated December 10, SERAP said disclosing the details will help Nigerians scrutinise how the funds were expended and promote transparency and accountability.


It added that it is part of the “legally enforceable human rights” of residents of the benefitting states to know how the refunds were spent.


The organisation gave the governors an ultimatum of seven days to disclose the details or face legal action.


“Widely publishing details of the spending of the oil derivation refunds would ensure that persons with public responsibilities are answerable to the people for the performance of their duties in the management of public funds,” the letter reads.


“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel you and your state to comply with our request in the public interest.


 “The public interest in obtaining the information about expenditures relating to the oil derivation refunds outweighs any privacy or other interests. The oversight afforded by public access to such details would serve as an important check on the activities of your state and help to prevent abuses of the public trust.


“SERAP also urges you to disclose details of spending of the refunds to local government councils through the state accounts, and to explain the role played by your government in the spending of public funds meant for the councils.”


The organisation also asked the governors to invite the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to jointly track and monitor the spending of the refunds by the respective states.


In November, Nyesom Wike, Rivers state governor, disclosed that the projects he recently inaugurated were financed with the state’s share of the 13 percent derivation arrears paid by the federal government to all the Niger Delta states.


Following Wike’s remarks in which he challenged other governors to give account of the funds, more states have also confirmed receipts of the derivation arrears.

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