By Ese Awhotu with agency report
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP has said that, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Dogara must account for the spending of the N500bn budgeted as running cost for the National Assembly between 2006 and 2016.
SERAP made the vow yesterday in a statement signed by its Deputy Director, following a court order that the leadership of the National Assembly, NASS, account for the N500 billion running cost.
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos had on Friday granted SERAP leave to carry on with its pursuit of compelling Dr. Saraki and Hon. Dogara to make the allowances of the lawmakers’ public as well as the details of how the N500 billion budgeted from 2006 to 2016 as running cost was spent.
In his ruling, Justice Rilwan Aikawa said he has looked at the papers filed by SERAP and the group’s quest as meritorious.
“I am satisfied that leave ought to be granted in this case for judicial review and an order of mandamus directing and compelling the respondents (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 added.
However, Justice Aikawa adjourned till December 12, 2017 for Saraki and Dogara to raise objections if any as to why an order should not be made to compel them to supply the information requested by SERAP.
SERAP said the order by Justice Aikawa had cleared the way for it to advance its case against the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
This is even as the group said that the defendants will not suffer any injury or prejudice if the information is released to the members of the public.
According to SERAP, “It is in the interest of justice that the information is released. Unless the relief sought herein is granted, the defendants will continue to be in breach of the Freedom of Information Act, and other statutory responsibilities.”
Recall that SERAP had since 2016 embarked on a legal action against NASS leadership following allegations by a suspended member of the House of Representatives, Abdulmumin Jibrin, that NASS members had pocketed N500bn as running cost out of the N1 trillion provided for in the NASS budgets between 2006 and 2016, as well as former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who said each senator goes home with nothing less than N15m monthly while each members gets nothing less than N10m monthly.