April 17, 2024 1:19 pm
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Falana Condemns NASS Members’ Illegal and Contemptuous N110bn Palliative

Prominent human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has condemned the National Assembly’s decision to allocate N70 billion as palliatives for its members, labeling it as illegal and contemptuous.

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has strongly criticized the recent move by the National Assembly to allocate a whopping N70 billion as palliatives for its members. In a press statement issued today, Falana raised serious concerns about the constitutional breaches involved in this decision and called for an immediate reversal of the controversial measures. The allocation, which amounts to N228.7 million per legislator for the 306 newly elected members, has ignited public outrage. Additionally, there is an allocation of N40 billion for the purchase of luxury cars for top officials and legislators. Falana expressed his disappointment and highlighted the insensitivity displayed by the National Assembly in light of the economic struggles faced by ordinary Nigerians.

According to Senior Advocate (SAN), these decisions blatantly contravene Section 70 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, which outlines the appropriate remuneration and allowances for members of the National Assembly.

The decisions made by the National Assembly have not only raised public outcry but have also been found to be in direct violation of the Nigerian Constitution. Prominent human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, points out that these decisions blatantly disregard Section 70 of the Constitution, which clearly stipulates the remuneration and allowances that should be provided to members of the National Assembly. Falana argues that recent court judgments, such as the case of Monday Ubani & Anor. vs Attorney-General of the Federation & Ors, and the case filed by the Socio-economic Rights Accountability Project (SERAP), Enough is Enough (EiE), and BudgIT against the National Assembly, have already ruled against such excessive allowances.

The Federal High Court, in both cases, declared that the National Assembly Service Commission has no authority to determine the remuneration and allowances of its members. The court emphasized the need for the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to review and adjust salaries and allowances in line with the country’s economic realities.

The Federal High Court has made it explicitly clear in its judgments that the National Assembly Service Commission does not have the power to determine the remuneration and allowances of its own members. Instead, the court emphasized that the responsibility for such determinations lies with the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), which should adjust salaries and allowances in accordance with the economic situation of the country.

Falana firmly argues that these court judgments remain valid and legally binding, rendering the actions of the National Assembly illegal and contemptuous. He demands that the leadership and members of the National Assembly reverse these controversial allowances and the purchase of luxury vehicles without delay. Should the necessary steps not be taken to rectify the situation promptly, Falana warns that he will initiate contempt proceedings against the Chairman of the RMAFC and the leaders of both chambers of the National Assembly.

The full statement released by Femi Falana can be found below:

PALLIATIVE OF N110 BILLION FOR NATIONAL ASSEMBLY MEMBERS IS ILLEGAL AND CONTEMPTUOUS

Out of sheer insensitivity coupled with impunity, the members of the National Assembly, regardless of political affiliation, conspired to breach the relevant provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 by padding the Supplementary Appropriation Bill, 2023 to provide the so-called palliative of N70 billion for 306 newly elected members. While the masses of Nigeria are groaning under the excruciating economic pains unleashed on them by the ruling class, the National Assembly has awarded N228.7 million to each of the newly elected legislators.

As if that is not enough, the members of the National Assembly have earmarked N40 billion to purchase 465 Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and bulletproof cars for principal officials and members. However, the legislators approved the sum of N500 billion for 12 million indigent people in a country where the National Bureau of Statistics has said that “62.9 percent of people (133 million) are multidimensionally poor.”

The callous and insensitive decisions of the members of the National Assembly constitute a flagrant contravention of Section 70 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, which stipulates as follows:

“A member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives shall receive such salary and other allowances as Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission may determine.”

In Monday Ubani & Anor. v Attorney-General of the Federation & Ors, the learned trial Judge, Professor Chuka Obiozor, interpreted this provision of the Constitution and ruled that the National Assembly Service Commission does not have the power to determine or allocate the remuneration, allowances, salaries, emoluments, or monetary values to the members of the National Assembly. The Court ordered the RMAFC to review the salaries and allowances of members of the National Assembly to reflect the country’s current economic realities.

It is important to note that these judgments have not been overturned or suspended by any higher court. Therefore, they remain legally binding and apply to both the Legislative and Executive Organs of the Federal Government.

In light of the above, it is evident that the National Assembly members deliberately acted in an illegal and contemptuous manner by approving allowances without the approval of the Revenue Allocation Mobilization and Fiscal Commission. We call on the leaders and members of the National Assembly to reverse these scandalous allowances and the purchase of luxury vehicles. If they fail to do so, we call on the Revenue Allocation Mobilization and Fiscal Commission to take swift action to prevent further encroachment on its constitutional functions. Failure to act accordingly will result in us commencing contempt proceedings against the Chairman of RAMFC and the leaders of both chambers of the National Assembly.

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