The fresh $29.96 billion foreign loan being sought for by President Muhammadu Buhari has drawn the ire of a human rights lawyer, Kanmi Ajibola, who, on Monday, instituted a legal action seeking the mandate of the court to stop the National Assembly from approving it.
Ajibola, in an action filed before the Federal High Court, Osogbo, Osun State, against the respondents, including the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, stated that they were not acting in the interest of Nigeria, while noting that instead of developing the available resources in the country, they were seeking procurement of destructive loan.
The former Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association, Ilesa branch in a 58 paragraph affidavit in support of his motion ex-parte, disclosed that he had on December 16, 2019, written letters to the defendants requesting for some vital information, but they failed to respond within the constitutionally stipulated time.
Some of what he demanded for were information about the local and foreign debt profiles and the defrayment modalities, list of all the Federal Government projects being executed from the loans taken from 2015 to date, financial cost of all executed projects from 2015 and the total sum of money recovered so far from the late General Sani Abacha’s loot, if spent and what it was spent on.
Ajibola told the court that he requested for the information to enable him take a step to rescue Nigeria, saying the Federal Government under the leadership of the respondents had failed Nigerians.
According to him, with the new foreign loan procurement, he discovered that the respondents wanted to perpetually entrap Nigeria in a debt gulag and that they are planning to take the loan without putting in place an effective all encompassing corruption check mechanism.
He blamed President Buhari for putting Nigeria’s economy into trouble by “placing himself above the law by freely disobeying court orders at will” which made foreign investors to flee the country in drove.
He further told the court: “In 2016, the president presented a projected proposal for foreign loan for 2016 to 2018 in the sum of $29.96 billion to the National Assembly that is the eight senate for approval as required by the law, but the National Assembly rejected the proposal because it saw it as debt colonization by the would be creditor banks, and it is capable of ‘sinking Nigeria into the dark gully of perpetual debt trap.’
“On November 28, 2019, the president has represented the projected proposal for foreign loan in the sum of $29.96billion to the National Assembly, that is the ninth senate, for approval as required by the law and has now agreed to approve the proposed loan.
“As at the time of this suit, only the senate arm of the National Assembly has been working on the approval of loan without the involvement of the House of Representatives.”
Ajibola chided the President and the National Assembly for appropriating a sum of N37 billion in the 2020 budget for the renovation of the National Assembly, a structure that was originally erected for N7 billion.
He said: “It is an axiomatic fact that, the senate alone cannot approve a foreign loan for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it requires the approval of the National Assembly, consisting of the Senate and House of Representatives of the Federal Republic if Nigeria.
“The Abacha’s loots and money stolen by very few of the public officers will be a relief alternative to the foreign loan sought by the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which will inter Nigeria to economic grave.
“The 1st to 3rd Respondents, among others, took oaths of office to discharge their duties to the best of their abilities, faithfully and in accordance with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the law, and always in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well-being and prosperity of the federal Republic of Nigeria.
“It is the duty of the FG and the Respondents to control the National Economy in such manner as it will secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity. The respondents have failed in this duty.
“The effect of taking foreign loan for economic stimulus infrastructure in a very corrupt system as we have in Nigeria is always counterproductive, besides that, the debt servicing will grossly suppress the effect of such borrowings, this is too harmful to economic growth of any country in the world.”
Ajibola expressed worry that both the President and that National Assembly swore to provide good governance, but contrary to the oaths of office of the respondents, “they are not faithful to the said oaths”.
He disclosed that he was working with some economic team for the purpose of assisting the Federal Government to enable it finance its budgets from the internally generated revenue rather than foreign and local loans.
The former NBA Chairman asked the court for an order of mandamus compelling the president to make available forthwith all his demands in his letter and an order restraining the president from taking the foreign loan of $29.96 billion.