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SERAP, 302 others sue Buhari over fuel price, electricity tariff hike

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), one of the leading voices of #EndSARS protests, Aisha Yesufu, and 301 other Nigerians have filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly over the fuel price increase and electricity tariff hike.

Wale Balogun, Emmanuel Ojo, Gideon Ibukuntomiwa, Oladipupo Bello, Ikpa-agodo Kingsley, Ayodele Adeyemi Fortune, Ismail Muhammad, Iyeke Lawrence, Are Okeoghene Bethel, Ibrahim Bibi Farouk , Chegwe Uche Christian, Godswill Danlami and Prof. Ikeme Grant are among those who filed the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/330/2020 before the Federal High Court, Abuja. It was filed on their behalf by SERAP.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare illegal, unconstitutional and unfair the recent electricity tariff and fuel price hike.
According to them, top public officers cannot continue to receive big salaries and allowances and spend public money to finance their luxurious lifestyles while asking poor Nigerians to make sacrifices.

Joined in the suit as defendants are Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).

According to the plaintiffs, President Buhari while presenting the 2021 budget proposal of N13.08 trillion to the National Assembly reportedly stated: “The new petrol pricing has freed up resources that were used for subsidy payments, while the new cost-reflective pricing in the electricity industry is meant to address the liquidity challenges in the sector.”

But the plaintiffs are seeking “an order directing and compelling the RMAFC to cut the salaries, allowances and other emoluments payable to Buhari, Osinbajo, Lawan and Gbajabiamila in line with the current economic realities, and principles of justice, fairness, equality and non-discrimination”.

They argued that the 1999 Constitution [as amended] makes it clear that the authorities should harness Nigeria’s resources to promote and ensure the maximum welfare, prosperity, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality.

According to them, the country’s resources ought to be harnessed and distributed to serve the common good, and not “to finance a life of luxury for politicians”.

The plaintiffs said increasing electricity tariff and fuel price in the middle of COVID-19 was not in the interest of the country, adding that it amounted to “a fundamental breach of constitutional oath of office”.

They are also seeking an order of injunction restraining the RMAFC from paying the same salaries and allowances to Buhari, Osinbajo, Lawan and Gbajabiamila until the agency reviews downward their salaries and allowances and other emoluments in line with Nigeria’s current economic realities and consistent with the principles of the rule of law.

The plaintiffs sued Lawan alongside all members of the Senate, while Gbajabiamila was sued alongside all members of the House of Representatives.

SERAP is also asking the court to determine whether the RMAFC can lawfully continue to maintain the same level of salaries and allowances for Buhari, Osinbajo, Lawan and Gbajabiamila in light of the country’s current economic realities and constitutional provisions, despite their apparent roles in the increase of electricity tariff and fuel price.

SERAP claimed public money is spent as security votes without transparency.

Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit filed by SERAP’s lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi.

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