BY BARTHOLOMEW MADUKWE
A group known as Stop Impunity Nigeria (SIN) has said the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, risk contempt of court for refusing to comply with the order of mandamus, by a Federal High Court (FHC) sitting in Abuja, compelling her to grant them access to the details of the statutory transfers in the 2013 Appropriation Act.
Speaking during an advocacy visit to media houses in Lagos and Ogun State, the Lead Director, Centre for Social Justice, Mr. Eze Onyekpere, pointed out that although the Federal Ministry of Finance did well by letting the public know that about 45,000 names of ghost workers had been taken off the payroll and about N118 billion saved, but it is also important to identify their allies.
According to him, since February 25, 2014 that Justice A. Abdu-Kafarati of FHC, in his judgement, granted to the applicant (Centre for Social Justice) the said order, the Minister neglected to comply with it.
“The judge granted an order of mandamus compelling the Respondent (Minister of Finance) to grant to us access to the details of the transfers to the National Judicial Council, Niger-Delta Development Commission, Universal Basic Education, National Assembly, Independent National Electoral Commission and National Human Rights Commission, and till now that order is yet to be complied with” Onyekpere stated.
He noted that the court on April 29, 2014 served the Minister of Finance Form 48 being Notice of consequences of disobedience to order of court for disobeying the order of the federal High Court in respect of Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/301/2013.
He added: “Counsel to the Applicant, Kingsley Nnajiaka Esq even wrote a letter to the Hon. Minister on the need to comply with the order of the court. Series of meetings were held in the Minister’s Office without success. With this notice, the Hon. Minister has to comply with the order of the Honourable Court or risk being committed for contempt of court.”
Explaining SIN’s collaboration with the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and other groups, Onyekpere said it was borne out of the recognition that impunity retards not only development of a nation.