Court orders National Assembly leadership to account for N500b spending
A federal high court, Lagos, has ordered the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, to account for the spending of N500 billion captured as running cost for the legislative body between 2006 and 2016.
It also compelled them to disclose the monthly allowances of each member.The trial judge, Justice Rilwan Aikawa, made the decision last Friday while delivering his ruling on the suits filed by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) designated FHC/L/CS/1711/16 and FHC/L/CS/1710/16.
“I have looked at the papers filed by SERAP and I am satisfied that leave ought to be granted in this case for judicial review and an order of mandamus directing and compelling Saraki and Dogara to account for the spending of the running cost and disclose the monthly income and allowances of each senator and member,” he ruled.
SERAP had filed the two suits following the disclosure by Abdulmumin Jibrin that the two chambers of the National Assembly had pocketed N500 billion as ‘running cost’ out of the N1 trillion provided for in the National Assembly budgets between 2006 and 2016.
Jibrin had also alleged that each senator goes home with nothing less than N15 million monthly while each House member receives nothing less than N10 million monthly.
The plaintiff had prayed the court to make the order, saying: “Obedience to the rule of law by all citizens but more particularly those who publicly took oath of office to protect and preserve the constitution is a desideratum to good governance and respect for the rule of law.
“In a democratic society, this is meant to be a norm; it is an apostasy for government to ignore the provisions of the law and the necessary rules made to regulate matters.
“The defendants will not suffer any injury or prejudice if the information is released to members of the public. It is in the interest of justice that the information be released.
“Unless the reliefs sought herein are granted, the defendants will continue to be in breach of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act, and other statutory responsibilities.
“Up till the time of filing this action the defendants/respondents have failed, neglected and/or refused to make available the information requested by SERAP. The defendants/respondents have no reason whatsoever to deny SERAP access to the information sought for.”Meanwhile, hearing on the motion on notice has been fixed for December 12, 2017.
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