Updated: March 7, 2021
The Nigerian minister of water resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, has begged a federal high court in Lagos to grant the ministry more time to account for spending on water projects, explaining that so many projects were completed under the Buhari administration, that compiling them all takes a lot of efforts and time.
The Ministry of Water Resources made the plea in court documents in its reply to the Freedom of Information suit filed in April by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).
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The minister said the extra time would allow him to compile and furnish SERAP with information on the spending on water, and locations of specific projects.
SERAP had requested Mr Adamu and the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Audu Ogbeh to “explain why millions of Nigerians have to resort to drinking water from contaminated sources with deadly health consequences, despite the authorities claiming to have spent trillions of naira of budgetary allocations on the sector since 1999.”
But Mr Adamu through a counter-affidavit dated 7 September 2018 and sworn to by Kwushue Abolaji, Legal Officer at the Ministry of Water Resources, said “the delay in furnishing SERAP with the requested information is not deliberate. The information will soon be ready and it will be forwarded to SERAP without further delay. We humbly urge the court to grant us more time within which to do this.”
“It is not true that millions of Nigerians are drinking water from contaminated sources. It is not the duties of the Ministry of Water Resources alone to provide drinking water for the citizens,” Adamu said.
The Written Address signed by M.C. Mbam, Counsel to Mr Adamu, read in part: “The Ministry of Water Resources did not refuse or decline to furnish SERAP with the requested information but was only unable to furnish it within the stipulated timeframe. We have already agreed in a letter dated 12 March 2018 to provide the information.”
“The inability of the Ministry of Water Resources to furnish the information is not deliberate rather it was because of the enormity of the materials required which could not be collated easily because more than one department is involved. Under the rules of this court, the judge may as often as he deems fit and either before or after the expiration of the time appointed by the rules extend or adjourn the time for doing any act or taking any proceedings.”
“The Ministry is still compiling the information and has written to various departments to provide the information for onward transmission to SERAP. We need more time to compile and transmit the requested information to SERAP. It will not be in the interest of justice to grant SERAP’s reliefs.”
However, while Mr Adamu has promised to render account on spending on water projects and is now asking the court for more time to do so, Mr Ogbeh has so far failed, refused and/or neglected to respond to SERAP’s request and has not filed any paper in court to counter the suit filed by the organization,” SERAP said in a statement sent to TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington DC.