The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has won the latest round in the legal battle to compel Senate President Bukola Sakari and Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the house of representatives, to account for the spending of N500 billion as running cost for the legislative body between 2006 and 2016.
On Friday, Rilwan Aikawa, a justice of the federal high court in Ikoyi, Lagos, held that SERAP’s request ought to be granted.
“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 held.
Aikawa granted the order for leave following the hearing of an argument in court on ex parte motion by Bamisope Ibidolapo, SERAP’s counsel.
The suit numbers FHC/L/CS/1711/16 and FHC/L/CS/1710/16 filed last December followed a disclosure by Abdulmumin Jibrin, suspended member of the house of representatives.
Jibrin had said Nigerian senators and house of representatives members have pocketed N500 billion as “running cost” out of the N1 trillion provided for in the national assembly budgets between 2006 and 2016.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had also said each senator goes home with nothing less than N15m monthly while each member receives nothing less than N10m monthly.
The order by Aikawa has now cleared the way for SERAP to advance its case against the lawmakers.
The motion on notice is set for Tuesday December 12, 2017, for the hearing of argument on why Saraki and Dogara should not be compelled to publish details of the spending on the running of the national assembly and the exact monthly income and allowances of each senator and member.
The suits read in part: “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 the 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 Act, and other statutory responsibilities.”