The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has asked the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the salaries and allowances of the 469 members of the National Assembly.
The court asked the anti-graft agency to prosecute and jail the lawmakers if they were found to be telling lies that the money they were alleged to be earning is not true.
The court, in its ruling today, June 4, ordered the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to fix the salaries and allowances of the federal lawmakers to reflect the economic realities in the country. It ruled that the National Assembly Service Commission has no power to determine the remuneration and allowances of lawmakers.
Justice Chuka Obiozor delivered the judgment via zoom today in the consolidated suits brought by two legal Practitioners, Mr. Monday Ubani and Mr. John Nwokwu, and more than 1,500 concerned Nigerians through the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), BudgIT and Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE).
Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana led the team of human rights lawyers who secured victory in what is being described as a landmark judgment.
The suit was filed on the heels of reports that members of the National Assembly receive running costs and allowances not determined by RMAFC and that such allowances are illegal because they are far above what the RMAFC prescribed.
In 2018, one of the senators, Senator Shehu Sani had disclosed in an interview that “each senator receives N13.5 million monthly as running cost in addition to over N750,000.00 monthly consolidated salary and allowances”.
Another online publication further revealed that each senator is entitled to the sum of N200m as a constituency project allowance.
The National Assembly filed a Defence denying ever collecting such an amount but failed to disclose to the court how much they collect.
The NASS Commission in their defense also denied paying such an amount to the members. They also challenged the locus standi of the plaintiffs to institute the action against them.
But Justice Obiozor overruled these objections and held that in line with the constitution, the RMAFC should do a downward review of the salaries, remuneration, or allowances of the lawmakers to reflect the economic realities in the country.
The court also recommended that since the lawmakers have denied receiving jumbo pays, the EFCC should look at their books and prosecute them if it is found that they under collect such an amount of money.
The National Assembly comprises 469 members – with 109 in the Senate and 360 in the House of Representatives.