The Centre for Anti-corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) and Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to pay into the national coffers money used to defend himself in personal litigation.
The Supreme Court had on Monday condemned President Buhari for using a state-paid Gresham immigration lawyer in a personal capacity.
Justice Mary Odili made the criticism while ruling on the perjury allegation brought against the Buhari by three different appellants.
The judge was of the opinion that President Buhari was sued in his personal capacity and not as the president of Nigeria, hence using a lawyer from the ministry of justice to answer lawsuit was wrong.
Speaking to SaharaReporters on Tuesday, the chairmen of both CACOL and HEDA said President Buhari should pay from his pocket the legal fees incurred in his personal lawsuit and the money should be paid into the ministry of justice’s account.
Debo Adeniran, the Chairman of CACOL, said although he was not familiar with the law that precluded the lawyers from the ministry of justice to volunteer in taking up cases for the president in a personal capacity, he believed it was morally wrong for the president to have used public funds for personal use.
He said: “I wouldn’t know if the lawyers being paid by the federal government have leeway to volunteer for President Buhari. But I also believe that it is not morally right for the president to use taxpayers’ money to prosecute his electoral aspiration.
“If the law does not permit it, then it would only be fair for the president to be asked to refund whatever amount of money the defence lawyers deserved to be paid to the national coffers. It is morally wrong for any government officials to use taxpayers’ money to prosecute their personal litigation.”
Similarly, Olarewaju Suraj agreed that the president should pay back what the state had expended in prosecuting Buhari’s personal lawsuits.
“Interestingly, we just resolved to demand his remitting to the national treasury an amount, from his personal earnings or salaries, the cost of procuring professional legal services for the purpose of that defence,” Suraj told SaharaReporters.
He added: “It might not be enough basis for resignation but he should as a matter of urgency pay that amount. Subsequent failure to do that, we can demand resignation and file an action to that effect.”