Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 192 concerned Nigerians have filed a lawsuit asking the Federal High Court in Abuja to restrain Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives and all members from spending N5billion to buy 400 exotic cars for principal officers and members.
SERAP is also seeking a court order to and stop the National Assembly Service Commission from releasing any public funds to the House of Representatives to buy 400 Toyota Camry 2020 model cars estimated to cost $35,130 per car.
In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/205/2020, SERAP and the concerned Nigerians argue that: “It is illegal and unconstitutional for members of the House of Representatives to choose to buy expensive and exotic cars while encouraging Nigerians to tighten their belts and to patronize Nigerian brands. It is also illegal for members to reject cheaper and equally reliable options.
“If the members of House of Representatives take their duties to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged among us seriously, including their duties to judiciously spend public funds, they would not have voted to spend over $35,000 per car, especially given the current economic and financial realities of Nigeria.
“There is chronic poverty in Nigeria and many state governments are unable to pay salaries of workers and pensions. Unless the reliefs sought are granted, the House of Representatives will spend over N5 billion of public funds to buy the exotic cars at the expense of many Nigerians living in poverty and misery.”
The plaintiffs are asking the court to determine “Whether the proposed plan and resolution by the House of Representatives to buy 400 exotic cars for principal officers and members amounting to over Five Billion Naira in total, is not in breach of Section 57 of the Public Procurement Act 2007, the oath of office, and Paragraph 1 of Code of Conduct for Public Officers [Fifth Schedule Part 1] of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended].”
The suit, filed on behalf of SERAP and the concerned Nigerians by their lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi, read in part: “Members of the House of Representatives are either unaware of the constitutional and statutory provisions on their fiduciary duties and judicious use of public funds or deliberately glossing over these provisions.”
They said it was public knowledge that members of the House of Representatives receive huge sums of money as monthly allowances and severance pay on conclusion of their respective terms at the National Assembly.