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SERAP sues Akpabio, Abbas over bogus National Assembly budget

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio and the Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr Tajudeen Abbas over the failure to disclose the details of the N344.85 budgeted for the National Assembly.

In a suit with case number FHC/ABJ/CS/178/2024 filed on Friday at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP sought an order to compel Akpabio and Abbas to “disclose, clarify and explain” details of the amount the National Assembly had budget for in the Appropriation Act 2024.

Akpabio and Abbas were sued for themselves and on behalf of all members of the National Assembly.

The suit indicated that SERAP is seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel Mr Akpabio and Mr 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.

“An order of mandamus to direct and compel Mr Akpabio and Mr Abbas to disclose, clarify and explain details of the proposed spending of the N3 billion for the ‘Senate Car Park’ and N3 billion for the House of Representatives Car Park in the Appropriation Act 2024.”

SERAP said, “Opacity in the spending of the N344.85 billion National Assembly budget would have negative impacts on the fundamental interests of the citizens and the public interest.”

Kolawole Oluwadare and Andrew Nwankwo, SERAP’s lawyers who filed the case on its behalf, urged the court to grant the application in order to promote public trust and further uphold the rights to information.

“In the public interest and the interest of justice grant this application. Nigerians are entitled to their constitutionally and internationally recognised human right to information.

“The public interest in obtaining the information sought outweighs any other interests. The oversight afforded by public access to such details would serve as an important check on the activities of the lawmakers, and help to prevent abuses of the public trust.

“Disclosing, clarifying and explaining details of the spending of the National Assembly budget would improve public trust, and allow Nigerians to track and monitor the spending, and to assess if the items on the budget are justified, as well as to hold lawmakers to account in cases of mismanagement and corruption.

“Disclosing, clarifying and explaining the details of the proposed spending of the N344.85 billion National Assembly budget would also ensure that lawmakers are answerable to the people for the performance of their duties,” SERAP said.

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