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Court affirms SERAP’s right to sue government over security votes spending

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• Senate seeks removal of gender restrictions for rape in criminal code
A Federal High Court, Abuja yesterday granted leave to the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in a suit against President Muhammadu Buhari and others “over their failure to disclose details of allocations, disbursements and spending of N241.2b yearly as security votes between 1999 and 2019.”

Other respondents in the suit are Senate President Ahmed Lawan and Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris and Auditor General for the Federation, Anthony Ayine.

Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed, who gave the ruling following the hearing of an argument on ex parte motion by SERAP’s counsel, Opeyemi Owolabi, expressed satisfaction that the leave ought to be granted and adjourned the motion on notice to December 10, 2019 for further hearing.

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Justice Mohammed ruled that hearing notices be issued and served on all the respondents within eight days.

The order by Justice Mohammed has now cleared the way for SERAP to advance its case against the respondents and to challenge their refusal to account for the allocations, disbursement and spending of security votes by the Federal Government, 36 state governors and 774 local governments between 1999 and 2019.

Meanwhile, the Senate has commenced the amendment of the Criminal Code Act, 2004, as it sought the removal of gender restrictions in rape cases.

Sponsored by Senator Oluremi Tinubu (APC, Lagos Central), the bill seeks removal of gender restrictions on rape offences, as well as a proposal of stiffer penalties for kidnapping.

The proposed amendment also seeks to delete the statute of limitation in cases of defilement.


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