N241bn Security votes: SERAP sues Buhari, NASS leaders


A rights group Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project
(SERAP) is seeking an answer and has sued President Muhammadu Buhari,
Senate President Ahmed Lawan, and Speaker of the House of
Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, asking the Federal High court to
order them disclose details of allocations.
The group wants information on disbursement and spending of security
votes by the Federal Government, 36 state governors and 774 local
governments between 1999 and 2019.
The suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1369/2019, filed last Friday followed
SERAP’s Freedom of Information requests and “the respondents’ failure
to account for some N241.2 billion of public funds allocated,
disbursed and spent yearly as security votes, and the corresponding
lack of effective protection of the rights to security and welfare,
life and physical integrity of millions of Nigerians.”
Others joined as parties in the suit are: Mr Godwin Emefiele, Governor
of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Ahmed Idris, Accountant
General of the Federation and Mr Anthony Ayine, Auditor General for
the Federation.
According to SERAP: “Nigerians have the constitutional and
international human right to know details of the exact amounts that
have been spent as security votes and specific areas and projects
covered by the allocations, disbursement and spending. There is
overriding public interest in Nigerians having access to these
details, and the respondents have legal obligations to facilitate
public access to such information.”
“Constitutional provisions requiring governments to ensure the
security and welfare of the people are intended to protect the
security and safety of citizens and not the security of a few
individuals in government. Without transparency and accountability,
the mismanagement and corruption in the allocation, disbursement and
spending of security votes will continue with devastating
The suit filed by SERAP’s lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi
Owolabi read in part: “The respondents have a legal duty to
proactively record, keep and disclose information in respect of
allocation, disbursement and spending of security votes without
waiting for SERAP to request for such information. They are also
required to maintain and publish documents containing information
relating to the receipt or expenditure of public funds.”
“Public officials receiving and spending security votes ought to come
clean with Nigerians on how exactly these public funds are spent.
Unless the reliefs sought are granted, Nigerians would continue to see
the appropriation of public funds as security votes as a tool for
“The suit is seeking to offer governments at all levels an important
opportunity to be transparent and accountable with the exercise of
their discretionary powers in the allocation, disbursement and
spending of security votes. The public interest in the disclosure of
these details outweighs any private interest the respondents may be
seeking to protect.”
“The huge financial resources budgeted for security votes by
successive governments have not matched the security realities in the
country, especially given the level of insecurity, violence,
kidnappings and killings in many parts of the country, which seem to
suggest massive political use, mismanagement or stealing of security
votes by many governments.”
“As revealed by a 2018 report by Transparency International (TI), most
of the funds appropriated as security votes are spent on political
activities, mismanaged or simply stolen. It is estimated that security
votes add up to over N241.2 billion every year. On top of appropriated
security votes, governments also receive millions of dollars yearly as
international security assistance.”

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