Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, the Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr Tajudeen Abbas, and the National Assembly at the Federal High Court, Abuja over failure to disclose, clarify and explain the details of N344.85 billion National Assembly budget, and the rationale for several budget items, such as the N6 billion budgeted for two car parks.
In the suit, number FHC/ABJ/CS/178/2024, filed at the weekend at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP is seeking an order of mandamus to direct and compel Akpabio and Abbas to disclose, clarify and explain details of the N344.85 billion National Assembly budget in the Appropriation Act 2024.
The body is seeking an order of mandamus to direct and compel Akpabio and Abbas to disclose, clarify and explain the details of the N8.5 billion budgeted for ‘National Assembly liabilities’ in the Appropriation Act 2024 and the nature of any such liabilities and how and why they have been incurred.
SERAP is also seeking an order of mandamus to direct and compel Akpabio and Abbas to disclose, clarify and explain details of the proposed spending of N3 billion for the ‘Senate Car Park’ and N3 billion for the House of Representatives Car Park in the Appropriation Act 2024.
In the suit, the organisation is arguing that details of the spending of public funds by the National Assembly have been mostly shrouded in secrecy. Nigerians have the right to know the details of the budget by the lawmakers, and the rationale for the budget.
SERAP is also arguing that disclosing, clarifying and explaining the details of the proposed spending of the National Assembly budget will allow Nigerians to scrutinise it and to monitor the spending of the budget to ensure the money is not mismanaged, diverted or stolen.
According to the body, opacity in the spending of the N344.85 billion National Assembly budget will have negative impacts on the fundamental interests of the citizens and the public interest.
SERAP is also arguing that the National Assembly ought to be more responsible to the public interest and more responsive to it. The National Assembly, it says, has a constitutional responsibility to combat waste and abuse in its spending if it is to effectively exercise its oversight functions and hold the government to account.
SERAP said: “Transparency and accountability in public administration is an essential element of democracy. Transparency in the spending of the National Assembly budget would give the public a tool to hold the lawmakers accountable. It would protect Nigerians from any potential abuses of governmental or legislative power that may exist”.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.