The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has asked the Federal High Court in Lagos State to stop the House of Representatives from procuring and taking delivery of 360 sports utility vehicles amounting to the sum of N57.6 billion for its members, “pending the hearing and determination of the applications for injunction filed by the organisation.”
According to SERAP, its applications for “interim and interlocutory injunction” followed reports that the lawmakers are set to procure and take delivery of the SUVs.
The organisation stated that according to reports, “each of the SUVs would cost taxpayers at least N160 million.”
This was made known by the organisation’s deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, in a correspondence obtained by PUNCH on Sunday.
The statement stated, “In the applications filed last week, SERAP is seeking “an order of interim injunction restraining the National Assembly from procuring, taking delivery and distributing the SUVs to their members, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice for an order of interlocutory injunction filed simultaneously in this suit.”
SERAP is also seeking “such further order(s) that the honourable court may deem fit to make in the circumstance of this suit.”
It stated, “It would be recalled that SERAP in August filed the suit number FHC/L/CS/1606/2023 before the Federal High Court challenging “the legality of the spending of billions of naira by the National Assembly to purchase exotic and bulletproof cars for members and principal officials.”
Oluwadaresaid the organisation sent an open letter to President Bola Tinubu urging him to “put pressure on the leadership of the House of Representatives” and stop its members from taking delivery of 360 SUVs, pending the court application for interim injunction.
He said, “In the letter dated 21 October 2023 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation also urged the president to “put pressure on the leadership of the Senate and stop members from taking delivery of the planned procurement of bulletproof SUVs, pending the hearing and determination of the application for interim injunction filed before the Federal High Court.”
The letter, read in part: “Allowing the National Assembly to go ahead and purchase and take delivery of the SUVs would prejudice the outcome of the suit pending in court and make a mockery of the rule of law.
“Unless you exercise your executive powers and discharge your constitutional oath of office act as recommended, the lawmakers would go ahead to procure and take delivery of the N57.6 billion vehicles, and thereby present the court with a fait accompli.
“It would invariably hamstring the ability of the court to do justice in the pending suit and applications for an injunction.”
It stated further that stopping the leadership of the HOR from procuring and taking delivery of the SUVs pending the court order “would be entirely consistent with the notions of the rule of law, judicial independence and integrity and the public interest.”
The statement continued, “Exercising your constitutional powers in this matter would promote the effective administration of justice and maintain the integrity of the claims against the lawmakers.
“Allowing the House of Representatives to procure and take delivery of the 360 SUVs for its members and the Senate to go ahead with its planned purchase of close to 500 SUVs while the applications for injunction are pending before the court would be detrimental to the rule of law and the public interest.
“It would also be incompatible with the constitutional oath of office. The constitutional oath of office under the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), imposes a clear responsibility on you to uphold and maintain the provisions of the constitution and the rule of law.
“In its most basic form, the rule of law is the principle that no one is above the law. Also, section 5 of the Nigerian Constitution grants you the executive powers to ensure the ‘execution and maintenance of this constitution’.”
SERAP stated that the Tinubu-led administration must uphold the “rule of law and the integrity of the judicial process” as demanded under the United Nations Convention against Corruption and human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party
“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken upon the receipt and/or publication of this letter,” it added.
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