SERAP’s Lawsuit Questions Senate President and House Speaker’s Allocation of Funds

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SERAP's Lawsuit Questions Senate President and House Speaker's Allocation of Funds
SERAP Challenges Senate President and House Speaker’s Expenditure Plans in Court

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has taken legal action against Senate President Godswill Akpabio and Speaker of the House of Representatives Tajudeen Abbas, alleging an unlawful scheme to allocate N40 billion for the purchase of 465 luxury and bulletproof cars for members and principal officials, along with an additional N70 billion labeled as ‘palliatives’ for new members. The lawsuit, registered as number FHC/L/CS/1606/2023, was submitted to the Federal High Court in Lagos last Friday.

The move by SERAP comes in response to remarks made by Akpabio, who disclosed that the Clerk of the National Assembly had disbursed holiday allowances to senators, raising concerns about stark contrasts between such benefits and the extreme poverty experienced by many Nigerians. SERAP asserts that these proposed expenditures fail to align with principles of responsible fiscal management and equitable distribution of resources.

The organization is now seeking an order of mandamus to compel both Akpabio and Abbas to reassess and reduce the projected expenses. SERAP is also demanding that the defendants be restrained from collecting or requesting the funds until a comprehensive assessment of the potential socio-economic consequences on the 137 million impoverished citizens of Nigeria is carried out, in the public’s interest.

Additionally, SERAP is requesting that Akpabio and Abbas take action to repeal the Supplementary Appropriation Act of 2022, with the aim of downsizing the National Assembly’s budget by N110 billion. This reduction, the organization argues, would better reflect the current economic realities of the nation.

In their filing, SERAP’s legal representatives, Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms. Blessing Ogwuche, assert that the planned allocation of N110 billion violates both constitutional principles and international human rights obligations. They argue that such a sizeable budget allocation contradicts the fiduciary duties of National Assembly members and raises concerns about potential conflicts of interest.

Highlighting the disparity in budgetary allocations, SERAP points out that while N70 billion is designated as ‘support allowance’ for 306 new lawmakers, a mere N500 billion has been earmarked for palliatives aimed at assisting 12 million underprivileged Nigerians. Additionally, a significant N40 billion is planned to be spent on acquiring 465 SUVs and bulletproof vehicles for legislative members and high-ranking officials.

SERAP’s legal action underscores concerns about the responsible use of public funds and the equitable distribution of resources in Nigeria. The organization’s move has ignited a crucial debate about the appropriate allocation of funds, transparency in government spending, and the socio-economic well-being of the nation’s citizens.

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