7 June 2013

Nigeria: Make Your Allowances Public, Falana Challenges Reps

Top Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN), yesterday asked lawmakers to shred the secrecy surrounding their salaries and allowances by making it public in order to dispel the mystery and misconceptions surrounding it.

Speaking at the second anniversary of the 7th Assembly of the House of Representatives, Falana said this disclosure would enhance the political goodwill the lawmakers were already enjoying from the Nigerian people.

Backing his request, he said, "Many Nigerians believe the statement credited to an eminent scholar, Professor Itse Sagay (SAN), that the members of the National Assembly are the highest paid legislators in the world. In order to end the diversionary controversy on the matter, I had, in Falana V National Assembly, challenged the constitutional validity of the jumbo emoluments of federal legislators. But the federal high court upheld the objection of the defendant that the plaintiff lacked the locus standi to maintain the suit.

"While I was ruminating over the verdict, the same court directed the defendant in LEPAD v National Assembly to disclose the details of the salary and allowances of members of the National Assembly to Nigerians in line with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

"Instead of complying with the judgment, the National Assembly has curiously taken the matter to the Court of Appeal. Therefore, as a matter of principle, I urge you make your salaries and allowances public knowledge."

On the ongoing budget imbroglio between the executive and the legislature, which he described as "the height of impunity on the part of the executive", he urged the House not to relent on its stand not to consider the amendment sent by the executive, stressing that the position taken by the lawmakers was lawful.

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