A federal high court sitting in Lagos has ordered the prosecution of principal officers of the national assembly indicted in the alleged N481bn padding of the 2016 budget.
The court said President Muhammadu Buhari should direct Abubakar Malami, attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, and/or appropriate anti-corruption agencies to “without delay, commence prosecution of indicted lawmakers”.
The judgment was delivered on Monday by Mohammed Idris, following a mandamus suit filed by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to compel the AGF to prosecute the indicted lawmakers.
The court also granted an order directing Buhari to “urgently halt alleged attempt by some principal officers of the national assembly to steal N40 billion of the N100 billion allocated by his government as zonal intervention in the 2017 budget”.
The president was also ordered to “closely monitor and scrutinise the spending of N131bn (accrued from increased oil benchmark) allocated for additional non-constituency projects expenditure, to remove the possibility of corruption”.
Timothy Adewale, SERAP deputy director said the judgment “confirms the pervasive corruption in the budget process and the prevailing culture of impunity of our lawmakers as well as the failure of the authorities to uphold transparency and accountability in the entire budget process and implementation.
”The judgement is an important step towards reversing a culture of corruption in the budget process that has meant that many of our lawmakers see the budget more as a ‘meal ticket’ to look after themselves than a social contract to meet people’s needs and advance equity and development across the country.
“This is a crucial precedent that vindicates the right to a transparent and accountable budget process and affirms the budget as government’s most important economic policy document, which is central to the realization of all human rights including the rights to health, water, and education.
”We are now in the process of obtaining a certified copy of the judgment. SERAP will do everything within its power to secure the full and effective enforcement of this important judgment.”