The Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday ordered the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to fix the salaries and allowances of the 469 members of the National Assembly to reflect the economic realities in the country.
Justice Chuka Austine Obiozor, the presiding judge, delivered the landmark ruling following the consolidated suits brought by Mr Monday Ubani, Mr John Nwokwu, more than 1,500 concerned Nigerians, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), BudgIT and Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE).
This was disclosed in a statement signed by Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP Deputy Director.
According to Justice Obiozor, the National Assembly Service Commission has no power to determine the remuneration and allowances of 109 in the Senate and 360 in the House of Representatives.
The plaintiffs in their consolidated suits said: “RMAFC has failed to do any downward review of salaries and allowances of members of the National Assembly since 2007 in spite of the economic downturn in Nigeria. Yet, the commission is statutorily required to review the pay of the lawmakers, in conformity with the country’s economic realities and to achieve fiscal efficiency.
“Given many years of extreme poverty in the country, and the inability of several state governments to pay salaries of workers and pensions, the refusal or failure of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission to review and cut the salaries and allowances of members of the National Assembly is a gross violation of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) and the commission’s own Act.
“The allowances of wardrobe, newspapers, kitchen traveling domestic and constituency project allowances of the members of the National Assembly are never contemplated or in the intendment of the constitution which created them and specified how they can be remunerated.
“The duty of the RMAFC to review the salaries and allowances of members of the National Assembly is mandatory and the Commission cannot choose not to comply. Therefore, the failure or refusal by the Commission to comply with its own Act amounts to arbitrariness.
“Unless the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs are granted, the defendants and members of the National Assembly will continue to benefit from these outrageous salaries and allowances, in breach of the law and at the expense of millions of Nigerians living in extreme poverty.”
After listening to arguments from the plaintiffs’ lawyers Mr Femi Falana (SAN) and Ms Adelanke Aremo, Justice Obiozor held that only RMAFC can allocate the salaries of lawmakers, stating that such allowances fixed by the National Assembly Service Commission are illegal because they are far above what the RMAFC prescribed.
“The National Assembly Service Commission has no power whatsoever to fix and determine or allocate the remuneration, allowances, salaries, emoluments or monetary values to the members of the National Assembly,” the judge ruled.
Senator Shehu Sani had in an interview with the News Magazine on the 8th of March 2018 revealed that “each senator receives N13.5 million Monthly as running cost in addition to over N750,000.00 monthly consolidated salary and allowances”.