Drop Plan To Borrow Dormant Account Balances, Unclaimed Dividends – SERAP tells Buhari
Socio-Financial Rights and Accountability Undertaking (SERAP) has despatched an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari urging him to make use of his management place “to promptly drop the plan by the Federal Authorities to borrow about N895bn of unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts utilizing the patently unconstitutional and unlawful Finance Act, 2020, and to make sure full respect for Nigerians’ proper to property.”
The Finance Act, signed into legislation by Buhari final December, would enable the federal government to borrow unclaimed dividends and dormant account balances owned by Nigerians in any financial institution within the nation.
However SERAP in a letter dated 9 January 2021 and signed by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare mentioned: “The fitting to property is a sacred and basic proper. Borrowing unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts quantity to an unlawful expropriation, and would damage poor and susceptible Nigerians who proceed to undergo underneath diminished public providers, and finally result in unsustainable ranges of public debt.”
SERAP mentioned: “The fitting to property extends to all types of property, together with unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts. Borrowing these dividends and funds with out due technique of legislation, and the express consent of the homeowners is unfair, and as such, legally and morally unjustifiable.”
In keeping with SERAP: “The borrowing is neither proportionate nor needed, particularly given the unwillingness or incapacity of the federal government to cease systemic corruption in ministries, departments, and companies [MDAs], lower waste, and cease all leakages in public expenditures. The borrowing can also be clearly not in pursuit of public or social curiosity.”
The letter, learn partially: “The safety of property, subsequent to private safety in opposition to the exertions of presidency, is of the essence of liberty. It’s subsequent in diploma to the safety of private liberty and freedom from undue interference or molestation. Our constitutional jurisprudence rests largely upon its sanctity.”
“Relatively than pushing to borrow unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts, your authorities ought to maneuver swiftly to chop the price of governance, guarantee assessment of jumbo salaries and allowances of all high-ranking political workplace holders, and tackle the systemic corruption in MDAs, in addition to enhance transparency and accountability in public spending.”
“The borrowing additionally appears to be discriminatory, because it excludes authorities’s owned official financial institution accounts and will exclude the financial institution accounts of high-ranking authorities officers and politicians, thereby violating the constitutional and worldwide prohibition of discrimination in opposition to susceptible teams, to permit everybody to completely take pleasure in their proper to property and related rights on equal phrases.”
“SERAP is worried that the federal government has additionally repeatedly failed and/or refused to make sure transparency and accountability within the spending of recovered stolen property, and the loans to this point obtained, which in accordance with the Debt Administration Workplace, at present stands at $31.98 billion.”
“SERAP notes rising allegations of corruption and mismanagement within the spending of those loans and recovered stolen property.”
“We’d be grateful in case your authorities would drop the choice to borrow unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts, and to point the measures being taken to ship again the Finance Act to the Nationwide Meeting to repeal the laws and take away its unconstitutional and illegal provisions, together with Sections 60 and 77, inside 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter.”
“If we’ve got not heard from you by then as to the steps being taken on this route, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all acceptable authorized actions to compel your authorities to implement these suggestions within the public curiosity, and to advertise transparency and accountability in public spending.”
“The federal government can’t lawfully implement the provisions on Disaster Intervention Fund and Unclaimed Funds Belief Fund underneath the guise of a belief association, as Part 44(2)[h] of the Nigerian Structure 1999 [as amended] is inapplicable, and can’t justify the institution of those funds.”
“SERAP notes that whereas focusing on the accounts of bizarre Nigerians, the Finance Act exempts official financial institution accounts owned by the federal authorities, state authorities or native governments or any of their ministries, departments or companies.”
“Our requests are introduced within the public curiosity, and in line with the necessities of the Nigerian Structure, the nation’s worldwide human rights obligations together with underneath the African Constitution on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state social gathering, and which has been domesticated as a part of the nation’s home laws.”
“In keeping with our info, your authorities has reportedly accomplished plans to borrow an estimated N895bn of unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts utilizing the Finance Act 2020 you latterly signed into legislation.”
“Underneath the legislation, the federal government will be capable of entry and take with out consent unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts in any financial institution, on the premise of the imprecise and undefined ‘Disaster Intervention Fund,’ and patently illegal ‘Unclaimed Funds Belief Fund’.”
“The federal government is justifying the borrowing on the bottom that it might enhance entry of the Federal Authorities to much-needed funds, and take away the burdens of international change and punitive mortgage circumstances imposed by multilateral lenders.”
“In keeping with the Finance Act, the operation of the belief fund is to be supervised by the Debt Administration Workplace (DMO) and ruled by a governing council chaired by the finance minister and a co-chairperson from the non-public sector appointed by you.
“The Nigerian Structure in Part 44(1) gives that, ‘no moveable property or any curiosity in an immovable property shall be taken possession of compulsorily and no proper over or curiosity in any such property shall be acquired compulsorily in any a part of Nigeria besides within the method and for the needs prescribed by a legislation.’”
“Equally, Article 14 of the African Constitution on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and Article 17 of the Common Declaration of Human Rights assure the appropriate to property and prohibit the arbitrary deprivation of the appropriate. Thus, everyone seems to be entitled to personal property alone in addition to in affiliation with others.”
“Respect for the appropriate to property is necessary to enhance the enjoyment of different primary human rights and to raise Nigerians out of poverty. The Nigerian Structure and worldwide human rights legislation restrict the flexibility of any authorities to intrude with non-public property with none authorized justifications.”
The letter is copied to Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, Legal professional Common of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Funds, and Nationwide Planning.
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