The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has implored the Federal Government to jettison plans to borrow N895 billion of unclaimed dividends & funds in dormant accounts using the illegal Finance Act and to ensure respect for citizens’ rights.
In the letter dated January 9, 2021 and signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP said:
“Borrowing unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts amounts to an illegal expropriation, and would hurt vulnerable Nigerians who suffer under reduced public services, and ultimately lead to unsustainable levels of public debt.”
It noted that “borrowing these dividends and funds without due process of law, and the explicit consent of the owners is arbitrary, and as such, legally and morally unjustifiable.”
SERAP explained that the “borrowing is neither proportionate nor necessary, especially given the unwillingness or inability of the government to stop systemic corruption in MDAs, cut waste, and stop all leakages in public spending,” adding that it’s also clearly not in pursuit of a public or social interest.
It pointed out that “the borrowing 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 prohibition of discrimination against vulnerable groups.”
The group advised that rather than pushing to borrow unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant accounts, the Federal Government should 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 ministries, departments and agencies as well as improve transparency and accountability in public spending.
SERAP threatened to drag the Federal Government to court in 14 days if it goes ahead with the borrowing.