War On Corruption: SERAP Drag, Lawan, Gbajabiamila To Court For Hiding Report

Crime Watch

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, and the Speaker House of reps, Femi Gbajabiamila for keeping mum on the corruption report. SERAP is agitated with the duo for failing to publish reports emerging from all completed public hearing and corruption probes done by the National Assembly since the year 1999. Recall last month the Legislature held a public investigative hearing on corruption emerging from various Ministries prominent which was the one from the Ministry of the Niger Delta and the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).

The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1065/2020 filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP is seeking an order of mandamus to compel Lawal and Gbajabiamila to release the findings of its investigation to Nigerians.

SERAP is also demanding names of Individuals, Companies, politicians, and any other body indicted by the investigation to be made public.

The group also wants an order to stop all lawmakers from directly getting involved in the execution of projects by MDAs, and to ensure an effective way of exercising their oversight function.

The suit followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information (FoI) requests dated July 25, 2020.

Barrister Kilawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi, Lawyers to the Socio right group said there is no legally justifiable reason why the information should not be made available to Nigerians, and why the prosecution of indicted suspects should not be pursued where there is admissible evidence.

The suit noted that “Public officers are mere custodians of public records. There is a 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”,

It continued, “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.”
As at the time of filing this report, no date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.