Activist-lawyer Abdulganeey Imran has asked the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to stop the Federal Government from seeking an $800m loan to finance the National Social Safety Network Program, (NASSP) meant to be shared at N5,000 per month to 10.2 million poor and low-income households.
In the alternative, the applicant is praying the court to restrain the President from sharing, distributing, tampering with or dealing with any such loan of $800million in any manner whatsoever.
President Muhammadu Buhari had sought approval of the House of Representatives for a fresh $800 million loan to finance the National Social Safety Network Programme (NSSNP).
The request was contained in a letter read by Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, to lawmakers at the resumption of plenary. The President made a similar request to the Senate last week.
President open letter
But, the applicant is seeking to block the loan via his prayers in suit FHC/L/C5/908/23 brought pursuant to Order 3 Rule 9 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2009, and Section 59, 80, 81, 135 of the Constitution.
Aside the President, other Respondents in the suit are, the Attorney General of Federation (2nd Respondent) and Minister of Justice, and Senate President 3rd Respondent).
The applicant also urged the court to direct the respondents to remit the said sum of $800million back to the federation account.
The lawyer premised his request on the grounds that Buhari’s tenure ends on May 29, “which simply means that he has less than nine working days to the end of his administration.
“It is therefore absolutely impossible for any serious-minded administration, especially the 3rd Respondent (Senate President) to commence the process of obtaining such loan, scrutinize the term and conditions, get it approved, send it back to the President, who shall in turn present it to the borrower all within 10 days.”
The applicant stated that there was no state of emergency or circumstance of extreme urgency that necessitated and justified “the hurriedness in processing and obtaining the $800million and there is nothing in the letter of request sent by the President to the Senate President that suggest any urgency in the purpose for which the purported loan is being sought.”
He further stated that going by precedent, it takes the 2nd Respondent, several weeks of painstaking scrutiny, debates, assessments and deliberations on any request that involves request for loans of any magnitude from the executive before such request is determined one way or the other.
He further stated that the Federal government lacks statutory power to borrow the money and/or subsidize consumption.
He added: ‘’The main purpose of requesting for additional loan as stated by the 1st Respondent in his letter to the 3rd Respondent was not captured in the 2023 Appropriation Bill as passed by the National Assembly.
The suit has been assigned to Justice Peter Lifu, but no date has been fixed for hearing.