SERAP asks court to order NASS to publish reports of corruption probes

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‎Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked an Abuja Federal High Court to order the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, to publish re‎ports of corruption probes and public hearings conducted by the National Assembly since 1999.

According to SERAP, the suit numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/1065/2020 was informed by the ‎failure of the National Assembly to publish reports of completed public hearings and corruption probes and failure to disclose the number of probes that have resulted in indictment of suspects.

The group is also asking the court to compel the National Assembly to name persons indicted by the probes and public hearings. ‎

‎SERAP is seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel Lawal and Gbajabiamila to send all reports of completed public hearings and corruption probes to appropriate anti-corruption agencies to consider if there is sufficient admissible evidence to pursue prosecution”.

It is also asking for “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus to direct and/or compel Lawal and Gbajabiamila to widely publish all reports of completed public hearings and corruption probes by the Senate and the House of Representatives, and to disclose the number and names of any indicted suspects since 1999″.

SERAP equally asking the court for “an order of mandamus to direct and compel Lawal and Gbajabiamila to sponsor a resolution to stop lawmakers from directly getting involved in the execution of projects by MDAs, and to ensure the proper and effective exercise of their oversight functions over corruption allegations including in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF)”. ‎

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In the suit filed by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi, SERAP argued that there is no legally justifiable reason why the information should not be made widely available to Nigerians, and why the prosecution of indicted suspects should not be pursued, where there is relevant admissible evidence.

It added, “Public officers are mere custodians of public records. There is legitimate public interest in the publication of the reports of these public hearings and probes.

“The public hearings and probes can only serve as effective mechanisms to prevent and combat corruption if their reports are widely published.

“The exercise of oversight functions and powers by the National Assembly to conduct public hearings and corruption probes in MDAs should be regarded as a public trust.

“The National Assembly has a unique opportunity to enhance the integrity of its oversight functions on corruption matters in particular, and other constitutional roles, in general.

“Both the Senate and House of Representatives have over the years conducted several public hearings and corruption probes to expose pervasive problem of corruption in MDAs. Publishing the reports and pursuing prosecution would give Nigerians greater confidence that their lawmakers can use their constitutional oversight functions to address corruption in Nigeria.”‎

No date has been fixed for hearing of the suit.

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