Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has instituted a legal action against the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila over their inability to probe, and to refer to appropriate anti-corruption agencies fresh allegations that N4.1 billion of public money budgeted for the National Assembly is missing, misappropriated or stolen.
The suit followed the publication of the annual audited report for 2016 in which the Auditor-General of the Federation raised concerns about alleged diversion and misappropriation of public funds and sought the recovery of any missing funds.
The disclosure is contained in a public statement issued by SERAP and can be seen on its website.
In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1609/2021 filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Kehinde Oyewumi, SERAP is seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel Dr Lawan and Mr Gbajabiamila to perform their constitutional oversight functions to promptly probe the allegations that fresh N4.1bn budgeted for the National Assembly may be missing.
What SERAP is saying in the suit
SERAP in the suit argued that, “The National Assembly has legal and constitutional duties to prevent and combat corruption, as well as promote transparency and accountability in the management of public resources.
“The National Assembly can only effectively perform its anti-corruption role if it can demonstrate exemplary leadership to probe the allegations of corruption and mismanagement involving the legislative body.
‘’Transparency and accountability in the management of public resources and wealth is essential for promoting development, people’s welfare and well-being, and their access to basic public services, as well as good governance and the rule of law.
“The failure of the National Assembly to promptly and thoroughly investigate, and to refer to appropriate anti-corruption agencies the allegations documented in the annual audited report for 2016 is a fundamental breach of the oversight and public interest duties imposed on the legislative body.
“The National Assembly has no legally justifiable reason to refuse to investigate the allegations documented by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.”
SERAP in the suit pointed out that granting this application would serve the interest of justice, reduce corruption and mismanagement, as well as end impunity of perpetrators, and advance the fundamental human rights of Nigerians.
The anti-corruption group also said that the suit seeks to vindicate the rule of law, the public interest, and to promote transparency and accountability, noting that government agencies and institutions are responsible to a court of justice for the lawfulness of what they do, and of that the court is the only judge.
What you should know
Recall that last year, SERAP sent a letter to Dr Lawan and Mr Gbajabiamila requesting them to use their good offices to urgently probe and refer to appropriate anti-corruption agencies allegations that fresh allegations of missing N4.1 billion of public money.