Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari over “his failure to probe allegations that N3,836,685,213.13 of public funds meant for the Federal Ministry of Health.
The suit is coming in the wake of the controversy over Buhari’s travel to London for a “routine” medical check-up at a time the country’s resident doctors are on 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 President 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.”
In the suit, SERAP is arguing 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 one’s ability to pay for care or one’s political position.”
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.”
SERAP is also arguing that, “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.”
According to SERAP:
“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 Mr Abubakar Malami, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation; and Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health.