Publish weekly spending details on COVID-19 pandemic, SERAP tells Buhari

*Total number of tests conducted so far too

Socio Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has asked the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, to ensure that details of exact funds being expended and other resources received from the private sector to combat the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Nigeria are published weekly.

SERAP, also sought from the Federal Government to: “disclose information on the exact number of tests that have been carried out for high-ranking public officials and politicians, the number of any such high-ranking public officials and politicians now in self-isolation or quarantine, as well as the exact number of tests that have been carried out for the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”

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In two Freedom of Information, FoI, requests sent to Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, and Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC,

Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, SERAP said: “We are concerned about the lack of transparency in the use of the funds and resources being mobilised to combat Coronavirus, amid problems accessing the NCDC’s website, and reports that authorities are prioritising home testing of politicians, with some reportedly taking multiple tests.”

According to SERAP, in the FoI requests dated 27 March, 2020, signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Mr. Kolawole Oluwadare, “Politicians engaging in multiple tests for Coronavirus have in turn slowed the number of tests for the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people.

“We are concerned that lack of transparency in the use of the funds and resources to combat COVID-19 would lead to diversion or mismanagement of resources, unnecessarily cost lives, and result in serious damage to public health in the country.”

SERAP said: “We urge you to disclose the level of enforcement for home quarantine system for high-ranking public officials, politicians and the wealthy, and whether the Ministry of Health and NCDC are carrying out spot checks to ensure strict compliance by these people.”

“We would be grateful if the requested information is provided to us within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions under the Freedom of Information Act to compel you to comply with our request.”

“Any failure or refusal to provide the information requested will also be clearly inconsistent with the letter and spirit of the Freedom of Information Act.”

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