Taxpayers’ right in challenging the mismanagement of public funds in nigeria: towards a liberal approach


Corruption has been recognised as a bane to development in Nigeria. The extant rules of standing in the Nigerian legal system empower the Attorney General and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as the competent authorities for instituting an action against public officials for misappropriation of public funds. However, available data on conviction rates for cases instituted against corrupt officials has revealed that the current system is ineffective. This begs the question; is a private citizen/ taxpayer competent to institute an anti-corruption action bearing in mind that corruption cases are criminally prosecuted? Should the fact that the funds constitute taxpayers’ funds vest standing in the taxpayer? This paper analyses the Nigerian law on the subject. It also examines whether the actio popularis principle entrenched in the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules, 2009 (“FREP Rules, 2009”) provides an opportunity for the private citizen/ taxpayer to institute an action where the misappropriation of public funds violates the human rights obligation of the state. This paper also examines the standing of private citizens to prosecute anti-corruption cases under international law and in the European Union. This paper argues that in order to make the fight against corruption effective, the Court would have to adopt a liberal approach to the interpretation of the standing rules in Nigeria and give life to the actio popularis principle captured in the FREP Rules, 2009.

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