Former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Monday described reports that a court judgement had mandated her to account for missing N30 trillion as “baseless,” “dubious” and “politically motivated”.
Following a suit filed by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), a federal high court sitting in Lagos had allegedly asked the former minister to “provide information on the spending of the alleged missing N30 trillion which represents some accruable income to the Federal Government during the last four years of the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.”
However, Okonjo-Iweala, in a statement signed by her media aide, Paul Nwabuikwu, denied that she has been served any court ruling, noting that her lawyers will take action on the matter.
The statement reads: “Our attention has been drawn to media reports regarding a court judgment alleged to have been entered against the federal government of Nigeria and Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in respect of an action by the Socio-Economic Rights Agenda (SERAP) pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act.
“The high court, according to the media reports, ordered the Federal government and Dr. Okonjo-Iweala to provide information relating to N30 trillion Naira allegedly unaccounted for.
“Dr Okonjo-Iweala hastens to state that she was never served with any court processes in relation to the said matter. She has not read the judgment and would therefore defer any comments on the matter.
“However from the media reports, the case was instituted in February 2015 but was not served until July 2015 after Dr Okonjo-Iweala had already ceased to be the Minister of Finance.
“By the date the said papers were purportedly served Dr Okonjo-Iweala was no longer a public officer and could therefore not be the subject of a request for production of any documents or information under the Freedom of information Act.
“The court processes must have been served on others because the attention of Dr Okonjo-Iweala was never drawn to the matter in which she appears to have been sued personally. She therefore did not engage any lawyer to act for her in the matter.
“The decision of SERAP to anchor its case on a baseless and unsubstantiated allegation by former CBN governor Professor Charles Soludo that N30 trillion – about seven times the total annual budget during the Jonathan administration – is missing confirms SERAP’s dubious motives and its role as a tool for politically motivated actors.
“It is curious that the first time Dr Okonjo-Iweala is being made aware of a matter filed against her in court is in news reports reporting the delivery of judgment. She has instructed her lawyers to take steps to set aside the judgment as it affects her.”