15 April 2018

Nigeria: Remove Lawmakers' Illegal Allowances From 2018 Budget, Group Urges Buhari

A human rights organisation, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre), has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to remove all illegal allowances inserted by federal lawmakers in the 2018 budget.

The group also wants the president to retrieve from the lawmakers, previous fund collected illegally.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how each senator receives N13.5 million monthly as office running cost separate from salaries and other legal allowances.

HEDA's plea is contained in a letter to Mr Buhari, signed by its chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju.

The group, in the letter, expressed concern over the recently revealed illegal allowances paid to members of parliament, especially senators.

The letter reads, "A member of the Senate, Senator Shehu Sanni shocked Nigerians during an interview with a Newspaper with the revelation of parliamentarian's illegal collection of unconstitutional running cost, above the statutorily approved salaries and allowances, to the tune of N13.5M since the inauguration of this 8th Assembly.

"This is in the least, criminal, inhuman, cruel and corruption beyond imagination of observers of your government and its anti-corruption agenda.

"The Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), the body charged with responsibility of fixing remuneration package for political, public and judicial officer in Nigeria says monthly payment of N13.5M as running cost to senator is unknown to the Commission and therefore illegal.

"On March 29, 2018, SaharaReporters reported that each of the lawmakers in the House of Representatives also receives N11.5M monthly as running cost.

"RMAFC spokesman was reported to have said on the 28th of March that the approved monthly payment of a Senator was N1.06M, and anything outside that amount is against the tenets of the Nigerian law as provided in Section 84 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended which provides that "there shall be paid to the holders of the offices mentioned in this section such remuneration, salaries and allowances as may be prescribed by the National Assembly, but not exceeding the amount as shall have been determined by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission", and therefore disowned the jumbo payment to the lawmakers.

"According to him, the National Assembly Service Commission should be held accountable. He was also reported to have said that a closer look at the monthly entitlement of senators reveals that each senator collects salary and allowances in the sum of N1,063,860.00. Then we wonder what the running cost is for."

The group demanded that President Buhari should not only halt payment of these illegal allowances, but also retrieve those paid in the past.

"On this account, HEDA Resource Center hereby call on Your Excellency to demand the removal of all those illegal allowances, including but not limited to the N13.5M, inserted in the 2018 budget and the retrieval of all the previous monies collected illegally by the lawmakers from all those affected, so that all loopholes that encourage corrupt practices could be blocked and prevented."

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