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, over the failure to publish reports of all completed public hearings and corruption probes by the National Assembly since 1999, as well as the failure to disclose the number of probes that have resulted in the indictment of suspects, and naming of such suspects.
The suit followed recent public hearings by the National Assembly on corruption allegations in ministries, departments, and agencies, including the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), and Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).
In the suit filed last week at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP is seeking an order of mandamus to direct and compel Dr Lawan and Mr Gbajabiamila to send all reports of completed public hearings and corruption probes to appropriate anti-corruption agencies to consider sufficient admissible evidence to pursue prosecution.
SERAP is also seeking an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus to direct and/or compel Dr Lawan and Mr Gbajabiamila to widely publish all reports of completed public hearings and corruption probes by the Senate and the House of Representatives, and to disclose the number and names of any indicted suspects since 1999.
SERAP is asking the court for an order of mandamus to direct and compel Dr Lawan and Mr Gbajabiamila to sponsor a resolution to stop lawmakers from directly getting involved in the execution of projects by MDAs, and to ensure the proper and effective exercise of their oversight functions over corruption allegations, including in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).
The suit followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information (FoI) requests dated 25 July, 2020, stating that: “The most effective way to deter corruption is to make the cost of engaging in these types of act higher than the rewards. This can only be accomplished by making the reports public and pursuing public accountability for corrupt acts.”
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers – Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi read in part: “There is no legally justifiable reason why the information should not be made widely available to Nigerians, and why the prosecution of indicted suspects should not be pursued, where there is relevant admissible evidence.”
According to SERAP, “Both the Senate and House of Representatives have over the years conducted several public hearings and corruption probes to expose the pervasive problem of corruption in MDAs.
“Publishing the reports and pursuing prosecution would give Nigerians greater confidence that their lawmakers can use their constitutional oversight functions to address corruption in Nigeria.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.