President Muhammadu Buhari has been dragged to court over his failure to probe the disappearance of N3.8 billion meant for the Federal Ministry of Health.
The money was meant for teaching hospitals, medical centres, and National Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), according to a recently released 2018 audited report by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.”
The suit filed by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) comes in the wake of the controversy over Buhari’s travel to London for a “routine” medical check-up.
The President’s medical tourism coincides with the strike by resident doctors over welfare issues, leaving millions of poor Nigerians without access to medical service.
In the suit 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”.
The suit also seeks to compel him to investigate the extent and patterns of widespread corruption in the Federal Ministry of Health, teaching hospitals, medical centres and NAFDAC.
“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,”the group said in a statement Sunday.
“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 contends 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, violating their constitutional and international human rights.
“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.