Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has filed a lawsuit asking the Federal High Court in Lagos to stop the Senate President Bukola Saraki from paying former Plateau State governor, Senator Joshua Dariye N14.2 million monthly allowances while he serves out a 10-year prison sentence for corruption because such payment violates Nigerian law and international obligations.
According to SERAP’s lawsuit, Mr Dariye is still receiving the N750,000 salary and N13.5 million monthly allowances from the Nigerian Senate six months after his conviction.
In June, an FCT high court convicted Dariye for diverting N1.162 billion state ecological funds while he was governor. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison, which was later reduced to 10 years by a court of appeal in Abuja. Dariye is said to have been paid N85.5 million as allowances since his conviction.
Joined as Defendants in the suit are: Mr Dariye and the National Assembly Service Commission.
In the suit number FHC/L/CS/2146/18 filed last Friday, SERAP argued: “Mr Saraki and the National Assembly Service Commission are trying to override Nigerian law and the judgment of our court by continuing to pay Mr Dariye’s allowances while he serves out a 10-year prison term and unable to sit and perform the functions of a senator. This action undermines the rule of law and is a great moral failure because it sends a message that corruption pays. It’s the opposite of Nigerian Constitutional principles and international obligations.”
The organisation also argued: “Stopping the Defendants would ensure that only sitting and serving senators are worthy of drawing salaries and allowances from the public treasury. It would also further serve the public interest and general public confidence in the government it elects. The interest in public confidence is greater than the convicted person’s interest in continuing to receive allowances while serving his sentence for corruption in Kuje prison.”
The 15-page lawsuit read in part: “Mr Saraki and the National Assembly Service Commission should be immediately restrained from unlawfully paying salaries and allowances to Mr Dariye who is serving jail term. Restraining them would send a clear message to Nigerian elected officials that corruption does not pay and contribute to promoting accountability and fostering public trust and confidence in Nigeria’s democracy, the rule of law and the governance system.
“By paying Mr Dariye’s allowances while in prison, Mr Saraki and the National Assembly Service Commission have destroyed the efficacy and purpose of Mr Dariye’s conviction and have brought the rule of law and administration of justice into disrepute. SERAP and the public are alarmed by the action of Mr Saraki and the National Assembly Service Commission and they ought to be restrained by this Honourable Court.
“Mr Saraki and the National Assembly Service Commission should not be allowed to continue to make a mockery of the rule of law, our process of administration of justice and our judicial system by behaving as if the Nigerian Senate is not bound by the court judgment which convicted and sentenced Dariye for corruption. Mr Saraki and the Nigerian Senate should be compelled to respect and obey decisions of the court.”