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SERAP drags Senate president to court over alleged budget padding

Rights Group Files Suit Urging Investigation into N3.7 Trillion Allegations and Reinstatement of Whistleblower

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has taken legal action against the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, over alleged failure to refer a purported N3.7 trillion budget padding to appropriate anti-corruption agencies. Additionally, the group seeks the reinstatement of Senator Abdul Ningi, who blew the whistle on the allegations.

In a suit filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja, with number FHC/ABJ/CS/452/2024, SERAP’s lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Mrs. Adelanke Aremo, demand accountability for the allegations disclosed by Senator Ningi.

The lawsuit, disclosed in a statement on Sunday, underscores SERAP’s commitment to transparency and accountability in public governance. The organisation asserts that whistleblowers must be protected and not penalised for making public interest disclosures.

According to SERAP’s statement, the suit seeks orders to compel Akpabio to initiate investigations and prosecutions of suspected perpetrators of the alleged budget padding. It also demands the immediate reinstatement of Senator Ningi, who faced suspension for revealing the irregularities.

SERAP underscores the significance of transparency and accountability mechanisms to prevent embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds, particularly in constituency projects. The group argues that such actions would serve the public interest and foster trust in democratic institutions.

However, Akpabio’s counsel, Umeh Kalu (SAN), asserts that the Senate’s decision to suspend Ningi was a collective resolution and not solely Akpabio’s action. Despite this, SERAP deems Ningi’s suspension as flawed and retaliatory.

While no hearing date has been set, SERAP emphasises the impact of corruption allegations on societal development and public services. Proper investigation and prosecution, the group argues, are essential to ending impunity and strengthening the rule of law.

Senator Ningi’s disclosures, protected under international conventions, highlight the imperative for accountability and transparency in budget processes. SERAP’s legal action signals a broader effort to uphold democratic values and combat corruption within Nigeria’s legislative framework.

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