Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari over his alleged failure to probe allegations that N3,836,685,213.13 of public funds meant for government owned facilities.
The group explained that the said funds meant for Federal Ministry of Health, teaching hospitals, medical centres, and National Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) were possibly mismanaged, diverted and stolen, as documented in the recently released 2018 audited report by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.
As stated, the move had become imperative following the country’s resident doctors strike over unpaid salaries, upward review of hazard allowances, and COVID-19 care incentives, leaving millions of poor Nigerians without access to medical treatment.
In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/433/2021 filed last week at the Federal High Court in Abuja, SERAP is seeking an order of mandamus directing and compelling Buhari to investigate alleged missing N3.8bn health funds, and to promptly investigate the extent and patterns of widespread corruption in the Federal Ministry of Health, teaching hospitals, medical centres and NAFDAC.
The group argued in the suit that corruption in the health sector exacerbates inequality in already unequal and unfair political, social, and economic environments, and produces a ‘cash and carry’ health care system based on Nigerians’ ability to pay for care.
According to SERAP: “transparency and accountability in the management of health funds is essential for promoting access of people living in poverty to physical and mental healthcare, satisfactory health conditions, equality and non-discrimination, development, as well as good governance and the rule of law.
“The failure to investigate the alleged missing health funds, bring suspected perpetrators to justice, and to recover any missing public funds has exposed millions of poor Nigerians to serious health risks, amounting to violations of constitutional and international human rights and anti-corruption obligations.”
“The fight against corruption in the health sector is vital for the effective enjoyment of the right to health by socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians, which in turn is essential to all aspects of a person’s life and well-being, and to the realisation of all the other fundamental human rights.”
Joined in the suit as respondents are Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire.