A Lagos-based lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana, has advised the Federal Government to stay its plan to obtain $2 billon loan from China, threatening to go to court if the Federal Government goes ahead.
In his opinion, Falana advised that rather than collecting loans and ‘plunging the nation into more indebtedness’, the government should make more effort to recover the $200 billion which were either not remitted to the Federation Account or stolen from the nation’s treasury.
According to the Senior Advocate of Nigeria, he had earlier written a letter a letter to the the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, sequel to a report that the administration had concluded plans to borrow $2.5 billion from the World Bank and another $1 billion from the African Development Bank.
In the letter dated February 12, Falana said he advised the government to seek alternative sources of revenue to fund the 2016 budget “instead of increasing the nation’s external debt of $64bn.”
Mr. Falana’s latest threats to sue the government if not taken seriously were recorded in a letter titled “Request for the Collection of Outstanding Revenue of $200 billion Withheld from the Federation Account or Stolen by Looters,” dated April 8, 2016 and addressed to the Minister of Finance.
He said :
“In particular, we requested the federal government to embark on the recovery of the revenue of $42 billion withheld from the Federation Account from 1999-2012 by some transnational oil companies, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and other agencies of the federal government”.
“In your reply dated March 17, 2016, you (Mrs. Adeosun) assured us that the issues raised in our letter were receiving the attention of the federal government. We were therefore surprised to learn that the administration had applied to the Chinese Government for another loan of $2 billion.
“In urging the Federal Government to desist from taking the loan of $2 billion from China or any other country we are compelled to advise the federal government to intensify efforts to recover the nation’s wealth which has been criminally diverted by a handful of local and foreign looters.”
Mr. Falana enumerated funds being withheld from the federal purse by different agencies and companies citing as an example the report by the National Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, covering 1999-2012, which showed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, some oil majors and agencies of the government withheld $20.2 billion from the Federation Account and further advised the government to issue a mandate to relevant agencies and the anti-graft bodies to recover such monies and send to the Federation Account. Hear him:
“In the light of the foregoing, we are compelled to call on the Federal Government to muster the political will and courage to recover the aforesaid withheld or stolen wealth of not less than $200 billion belonging to the Nigerian people.
“However, if you (Mrs. Adeosun) refuse to accede to our request, we shall have no alternative than to initiate legal proceedings at the Federal High Court with a view to restraining the federal government from further plunging the nation into external indebtedness.”