- President Muhammadu Buhari and the finance minister, Zainab Ahmed, are facing a lawsuit from some groups and concerned Nigerians
- The groups and the Nigerians want the court to halt the disbursement of the N37 billion meant for the renovation of the National Assembly
- The organisations say Nigeria cannot afford such fund when the country is battling with a 2020 budget which is in deficit
For planning to release N37 billion for the renovation of the National Assembly comprising the Senate and the House of Representatives, President Muhammadu Buhari and his finance minister, Zainab Ahmed have been sued.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), BudgIT, Enough is Enough (EiE) and 583 concerned Nigerians filed the suit before a Federal High Court, Abuja.
The groups want the court to stop the president and the minister from going ahead with releasing the fund to the Federal Capital Development Agency (FCDA) and the National Assembly until an impact assessment of the spending is carried out.
The organisations and the concerned Nigerians also urged the court to stop the president of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila and the FCDA from receiving the fund until impact assessment is carried out.
The plaintiffs in the suit FHC/ABJ/CS/1633/2019 argued that though the National Assembly should be a safe building, "spending N37 billion to renovate the place is not commensurate with the constitutional commitments to public services and goods."
They further argued that such spending would decrease public revenues and increase the level of debts as well as the poor economic and social realities in the country.
The plaintiffs claimed that spending such an amount is simply self-serving, wrong, illegal and an unconstitutional expenditure of public funds.
"It means less money for educating millions of out-of-school Nigerian children, providing access to clean water and healthcare to Nigerians including the elderly, or repairing the country’s roads and bridges," the plaintiffs said.
They noted that the National Assembly was constructed at the cost of $35.18 million in 1999 and ₦40.2 billion Naira was budgeted in December 2013 for the construction of its phase III as well as the renovation of the first and second phases of the complex.
They argued that with the 2020 budget which is in a deficit of ₦2.175 trillion, the least the political officials should think of is to spend such huge amount on the renovation of the complex.
Legit.ng reports that the deputy whip of the Senate, Sabi Abdullahi, had said that the proposed N37 billion National Assembly renovation is long overdue.
Abdullahi said the National Assembly complex which was built 20-years ago in 1999 had not enjoyed much focus when it comes to renovations or upgrading the building especially comparing the level of the legislative process taking place in the building.
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