A prominent human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has criticised the National Assembly’s decision to allot N70 billion as palliatives for its members as unlawful and insulting.
In a press statement issued on Sunday, Falana highlighted the clear violation of the pertinent sections of the Nigerian Constitution and urged the prompt reversal of these contentious actions.
The allocation of N70 billion to 306 newly elected members, along with an additional N40 billion for the purchase of Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and bulletproof cars for principal officials and members, has generated significant public backlash.
Falana highlighted the National Assembly’s lack of empathy and disregard for the economic struggles faced by the majority of Nigerians.
According to Falana, these choices are clearly in violation of Section 70 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Constitution of 1999, which specifies the appropriate compensation and allowances for members of the National Assembly.
Falana affirmed that the judiciary had already ruled against such excessive allowances, citing recent court judgements such as Monday Ubani & Anor. vs Attorney-General of the Federation & Ors and the case filed by the Socio-economic Rights Accountability Project, Enough is Enough, and BudgIT against the National Assembly.
In both cases, the Federal High Court ruled that the National Assembly Service Commission lacked the competence to set its members’ salaries and allowances. The court emphasised the importance of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission reviewing and adjusting salaries and allowances to reflect the country’s economic reality.
Falana emphasised that these judgements remain valid and binding, and that the actions of the National Assembly are thus unconstitutional and contemptuous. He urged the National Assembly’s leadership and members to reverse the contentious allowances and purchases of expensive vehicles.
He also asked the RMAFC to take quick action to prevent further takeover of its constitutional functions if these actions were not promptly corrected. He threatened contempt actions against the RMAFC Chairman and the leaders of both chambers of the National Assembly if they did not comply.