SERAP drags Akpabio, Abbas to court over N344.85bn NASS budget opacity

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has instituted a legal action against the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio and the Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr Tajudeen Abbas over the national assembly budget.

The good governance and transparency watchdog says its litigation was necessitated by the failure to disclose, clarify and explain the details of National Assembly budget of N344.85 billion, and the rationale for several budget items, such as the N6 billion budgeted for two car parks.Akpabio and Abbas are sued for themselves and on behalf of all members of the National Assembly.

SERAP filed the lawsuit with case number FHC/ABJ/CS/178/2024 last Friday at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

It’s 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.

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.”

It is also seeking: “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.”

According to SERAP, “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.”

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Andrew Nwankwo, urged the court to “in the public interest and the interest of justice grant this application. Nigerians are entitled to their constitutionally and internationally recognized 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.”

However, no date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit

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