SERAP sue Akpabio, Abass over N147bn rise in NASS’ budget

THE Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) have sued the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, for increasing the National Assembly’s 2024 budget by N147 billion.

The SERAP also joined 20 other Nigerians in the suit.

Akpabio and Abbas were accused of arbitrarily raising the budget for the federal lawmakers from N197 billion to N344 billion, the highest since 1999. The duo were sued for themselves and on behalf of all members of the National Assembly.


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In a Kellu: The female activist who died fighting for justice statement released on Sunday, 21, 2024, SERAP stated that in December 2023, the lawmakers increased their allocation from N197 billion – the amount President Bola Tinubu had proposed – to N344 billion.

From the 2024 budget, the legislators would receive N514 billion in total. In 2023, the legislators arbitrarily raised their budget from N169 billion to N228 billion.

In the suit numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/68/2024 filed on Friday, January 19 2024, at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP is seeking whether the lawmakers, in the exercise of their powers over appropriation/money bills, can unilaterally increase their budget without the re-presentation of the budget by the executive in line with section 81 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 as amended.

The organisation argued that the National Assembly’s action was a breach of the democratic principles of separation of powers and checks and balances.






     

     

    In the suit, the plaintiffs maintained that allowing the National Assembly to continue to unilaterally and arbitrarily increase its budget would fundamentally undermine the letter and spirit of the Nigerian Constitution, public trust, and the rule of law.

    “Paragraph one of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers provides that ‘a public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities.’

    “Members of the National Assembly have put their interest above the public interest and well-being and prosperity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, contrary to their oath of office.

    “The Budget/Appropriation Act 2024 is yet to be gazetted as of the time of filing this suit, and public access to the gazetted 2024 Budget/Appropriation Act is restricted,” SERAP stated.

    The suit was filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Andrew Nwankwo, but no date has been fixed for its hearing.

     

    Fatimah Quadri is a Journalist and a Fact-checker at The ICIR. She has written news articles, fact-checks, explainers, and media literacy in an effort to combat information disinformation.
    She can be reached at sunmibola_q on X or [email protected]

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