The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against Dr Ahmad Lawan, the Senate President, and Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker of House of Representatives, over their failure to probe and to refer to appropriate anti-corruption agencies fresh allegations that N4.1billion of public money budgeted for the National Assembly is missing.
SERAP’s 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.”
In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1609/2021 filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja, on behalf of SERAP, 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.”
SERAP is also arguing 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.”
According to the organization: “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.”
SERAP said that “transparency and accountability in the management of public resources and wealth are 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.”
It added that “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.”
“The Legislative Aides Section earned N12,274,587.77 as interests on Bank accounts in a commercial bank between January and December 2016 but failed to remit the money to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.”