The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against Senate President Godswill Akpabio and Speaker of the House of Representatives Tajudeen Abbas for failing to disclose, clarify, and explain the details of the N344.85 billion National Assembly budget, as well as the rationale for several budget items, such as the N6 billion budgeted for two car parks.
Akpabio and Abbas are being sued both individually and on behalf of all National Assembly members.
SERAP is seeking an order of mandamus to force and compel Akpabio and Abbas to disclose, clarify, and explain specifics of the N344.85 billion National Assembly budget in the Appropriation Act 2024, in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/178/2024, filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
The petition asks for: “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.”
The lawsuit also seeks: “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’s lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Andrew Nwankwo, filed a petition on its behalf, urging the court to allow the motion “in the public interest and the interest of justice.” Nigerians have a constitutionally guaranteed and globally acknowledged human right to information.
“The public interest in acquiring the requested information transcends all other interests. The monitoring provided by public access to such facts would be a crucial check on lawmakers’ actions, helping to prevent abuses of the public trust.
“Disclosing, clarifying, and explaining details of the National Assembly budget’s spending would boost public trust, allow Nigerians to track and monitor spending, assess whether budget items are justified, and hold lawmakers accountable 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.”
Yet, no date has been set for the hearing of the lawsuit.