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SERAP faults FG on N895bn unclaimed dividends borrowing plan

By Idowu Abdullahi,

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has faulted the Federal Government over the planned borrowing of unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts of Nigerians which had accrued to the tune of N895 billion.

Borrowing unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts, the organization said, amounts to an illegal expropriation, and would ultimately lead to unsustainable levels of public debt for the government.

To this end, SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to use his leadership position in ensuring the apex government promptly drop the plan to borrow N895bn unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts.

Through an open letter sent to the President, the organisation maintained that the right to property is a sacred and fundamental right, and that borrowing such fund would amount to rights infringement such that would hurt poor and vulnerable Nigerians, whom it claimed, are battling with reduced public services.

The organisation argued that since the government was unwilling to end systemic corruption in ministries, departments and agencies [MDAs], cut waste, and stop all leakages in public expenditures, the planned borrowing was unjustified, proportionate and unnecessary.

According to the organisation, the proposed borrowing is also clearly not in pursuit of a public or social interest.

“The security of property, next to personal security against the exertions of government, is of the essence of liberty. It is next in degree to the protection of personal liberty and freedom from undue interference or molestation. Our constitutional jurisprudence rests largely upon its sanctity.”

“Rather than pushing to borrow unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts, your government ought to move swiftly to cut the cost of governance, ensure review of jumbo salaries and allowances of all high-ranking political office holders, and address the systemic corruption in MDAs, as well as improve transparency and accountability in public spending.

“The borrowing also seems to be discriminatory, as it excludes government’s owned official bank accounts, and may exclude the bank accounts of high-ranking government officials and politicians, thereby violating constitutional and international prohibition of discrimination against vulnerable groups, to allow everyone to fully enjoy their right to property and associated rights on equal terms,” the letter read in part.

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