SERAP files lawsuit against Lawan, Gbajabiamila over alleged misappropriation of N4.4bn NASS funds | Ripples Nigeria
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SERAP files lawsuit against Lawan, Gbajabiamila over alleged misappropriation of N4.4bn NASS funds

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila.

Ripples Nigeria gathered that this lawsuit by SERAP was over “their failure to probe, and to refer to appropriate anti-corruption agencies allegations that N4.4bn of public money budgeted for the National Assembly is missing, misappropriated, diverted or stolen, as documented in three annual audited reports by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.”

The suit followed the publication of annual audited reports for 2015, 2017, and 2018 in which the Auditor-General of the Federation raised “concerns about alleged diversion and misappropriation of public funds, sought the recovery of any missing funds, and asked that the evidence of recovery should be forwarded to his office.”

The suit was filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Abuja with the number: FHC/ABJ/CS/366/2021.

In the suit, SERAP sought “an order of mandamus directing and compelling Dr Lawan, Mr Gbajabiamila, and the National Assembly to perform their constitutional oversight functions to ensure the prompt and transparent investigation into the allegations that N4.4 billion budgeted for the National Assembly may be missing and unaccounted for.”

In the suit, SERAP is arguing that “By the combined reading of the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended], the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the UN Convention against Corruption, which Nigeria has ratified, the National Assembly has legal duties to combat corruption, and promote transparency and accountability in the management of public resources.”

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According to SERAP: “The failure of the National Assembly to promptly and thoroughly investigate, and to refer to appropriate anti-corruption agencies the allegations documented in the annual audited reports for 2015, 2017 and 2018 is a fundamental breach of the oversight and public interest duties imposed on the legislative body by sections 4, 88 and 89 of the Nigerian Constitution.”

The suit was filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Adelanke Aremo, read in part: “Granting this application would serve the interest of justice, reduce corruption and mismanagement, as well as end impunity of perpetrators, and advance the fundamental human rights of Nigerians.”

“This suit seeks to vindicate the rule of law, the public interest, and to promote transparency and accountability. Government agencies and institutions are responsible to a court of justice for the lawfulness of what they do, and of that, the court is the only judge. The National Assembly has no legally justifiable reason to refuse to investigate the allegations documented by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.”

It would be recalled that SERAP had in a letter dated 30 January 2021 requested Dr Lawan and Mr Gbajabiamila to “use their good offices to urgently probe and refer to appropriate anti-corruption agencies allegations that N4.4 billion of public money budgeted for the National Assembly may have been misappropriated, diverted or stolen.”

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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