LEDAP Takes NASS To Court Over Bogus Emoluments

LEDAP-LOGO

By Tosin Omoniyi

The Legal Defence and Assistance Project, LEDAP, has taken the National Assembly to court over what it termed illegal salaries and allowances earned over the years.

In a suit filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja, it is seeking among other reliefs, an order that only salaries and allowances approved by the Revenue Mobilisation and Allocation Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, for lawmakers will be subsequently paid to the 8th Assembly which was recently sworn into office.

LEDAP is also asking the court to issue an order compelling the National Assembly to immediately refund any excess payment of monies, above what the RMAFC has statutorily prescribed as entitlements, made to legislators of the 5th, 6th and 7th assemblies.

In a press statement signed on behalf of LEDAP by its executive programs director, Adaobi Egboka, the organisation noted that it was appalled that despite a court ruling in June 2012 that compelled the clerk of the National Assembly to disclose the true earnings of the lawmakers, the order is yet to be obeyed.

Also, lead counsel to LEDAP, Chino Obiagwu, said it is high time that the questionable disbursement of public funds for the upkeep of the lawmakers is halted using legal channels.

‘It is important to curtail the arbitrary self-payments by the members of the National Assembly from the national treasury, “he stated.

“The court has a duty to ensure that no arm of the government becomes too arbitrary and acts above the law simply because it is the arm that makes the law,” Obiagwu further noted.

He added that the constitution was clear on the role of the RMAFC which is the only legitimate government body empowered to fix emoluments of public servants and political appointees.

“Anything in excess of that is unlawful and amounts to corrupt enrichment,” Obiagwu said.




     

     

    Obiagwu said that LEDAP wants the court to put a stop to the allocation of N8.6billion proposed as aggregate sum for payment of ‘wardrobe allowance’, and payment of monies for, ‘constituency project allowance’, ‘recess allowance’, ‘oversight allowance’, ‘committee sitting allowance’, ‘furniture allowance’ ‘vehicle allowance’ or any other allowance to members of the 8th Assembly of the National Assembly.

    Obiagwu noted that since these were not stipulated as salaries and remuneration of legislators by RMAFC, their disbursement would amount to acts of illegality.

    However, no date has been fixed for the hearing of the case.

    Nigerians have consistently decried the huge allocation of funds channeled to the National Assembly over the years.

    A Nigerian senator earns about N240m which is over a million dollars annually in salaries and allowances.

    A member of the House of Representatives on the other hand earns about N204m which is about one million dollars per annum.

    However, a civil servant who earns a minimum wage of N18, 000 or just I’ve $80 will have an annual salary of about N216, 000, less than $1,000 to cater for his or her needs.

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