Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has received court approval compelling Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa and the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) to publish spending details of the funds received and the locations of projects carried out between 2015 and 2019 in the state.
Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, last week ruled that, “Going through the Application filed by SERAP, supported by a 13-paragraph affidavit, with supporting exhibits, statements setting out the facts, verifying affidavits and written address in support, I am satisfied that leave ought to be granted in this case, and I hereby grant the motion for leave as prayed.”
Justice Aikawa granted the order for leave following the hearing of an argument in court on exparte motion by SERAP counsel, Ms Joke Fekumo.
The suit number FHC/L/CS/803/2019 filed last year followed “the failure by Governor Okowa, UBEC, and the Delta State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to explain how billions of naira of UBEC funds and from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee have been spent, and to disclose the locations of primary school projects.”
The order by Justice Aikawa has cleared the way for SERAP to advance its case against Governor Okowa, UBEC, and SUBEB and to challenge the legality of their refusal to publish the information requested. The suit is adjourned to 14th January, 2021 for motion on notice.
In the suit, SERAP applied for judicial review and to seek an order of mandamus directing and compelling Governor Okowa, UBEC, and SUBEB to “widely publish details of disbursement and spending of UBEC funds in Delta State; locations of projects carried out, and details of primary schools that have benefited from any spending of public funds.”
SERAP is also seeking “an order of mandamus directing and compelling Governor Okowa, UBEC, and SUBEB to disclose details of actual spending to provide access to quality education for children with disabilities in Delta State, and the names of the schools that have benefited from any such spending.”
The suit, read in part: “Delta State government has received over N7.8 billion from UBEC. The government has also received funds from federal allocations to Delta State.
“The government accessed over N3 billion of UBEC funds between 2015 and 2016, while it also reportedly approved the release of N1.28 billion counterpart funds to enable it access UBEC funds for 2017.”