The Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, has said N388.304 billion spending of London Paris Club loan refunds by 35 states “is protected by professional privilege and therefore confidential.”
Idris, stated this in response to a suit filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).
The federal government released N388.304 billion of the N522.74 billion to 35 states as refunds of over-deductions on London Paris Club loans.
Hence, SERAP filed a suit seeking “an order of mandamus directing and/or compelling the government to publish details of spending of N388.304billion London Paris club loan refunds allegedly diverted and mismanaged by 35 states.”
This followed a June court ruling that SERAP could on a legal basis, request how 35 states spent Paris Club loan refunds.
The federal government, however, maintained that the relationship between it and the 35 states while professional, allows for confidentiality.
It also argued that the accountant general is under no obligation to demand from states how they spent the funds allocated to them.
“The relationship between the accountant-general and the 35 states is professional and confidential,” SERAP quoted the federal government as saying.
“It is a fiduciary one akin to that between a bank and its customer and allied professionals.
“On that score, record of the spending of N388.304 billion London Paris club loan refunds by the 35 states is exempted from publication, assuming the federal government has the information sought by SERAP.”
“States have exclusive control over their revenue and expenditure and the accountant general of the federation cannot demand obligatorily from any tier of government including the 35 states information how they have spent the Paris club refunds.”