A federal high court in Lagos presided over by Justice Rilwan Aikawa on Friday ordered the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, to do two things:
- To account for how the national assembly spent the sum of N500 billion captured as its running cost between 2006 and 2016.
- To disclose the monthly allowances of each lawmaker.
What is happening?: A pressure group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) had filed two suits before the court following a claim by the former chairman of the House of Representatives committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, that the two chambers of the National Assembly had spent N500 billion as ‘running cost’ out of the N1 trillion provided for in the National Assembly budgets between 2006 and 2016. Jibrin had also claimed that each senator receives up to N15 million monthly while Reps receive not less than N10 million monthly.
SERAP had argued before the court that:
- Releasing the details is in the interest of justice. Saraki, Dgara and the national assembly “will not suffer any injury or prejudice if the information is released to members of the public.”
- Unless the court grants its reliefs, “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.”
“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,” said Justice Aikawa.