SERAP wants court to compel EFCC to prosecute Dogara, others for budget padding

By Joshua Olalekan, Lagos

A group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Federal High Court in Abuja for an order to compel the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate and prosecute culprits in the budget padding allegation rocking the House of Representatives.

Specifically, SERAP is seeking an order of the court to “investigate and prosecute allegations of budget padding and abuse of office leveled against the Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara as well as the Deputy Speaker, Yussuff Lasun; the Minority Leader, Leo Ogor; and the Chief Whip, Hassan Ado Doguwa.”

The suit with number FHC/ABJ/CS/733/16 dated 15th September 2016 was filed on behalf of SERAP by its Solicitor Femi Falana, SAN ahead of Tuesday resumption of the lower chambers.

The mandamus suit reads in part: “This suit was borne out of the fact that it is the statutory responsibility of the EFCC to investigate and prosecute financial crimes in Nigeria. Unless the reliefs sought by SERAP are granted, the EFCC will not investigate the Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara as well as the Deputy Speaker, Yussuff Lasun; the Minority Leader, Leo Ogor; and the Chief Whip, Hassan Ado for grave financial and economic crimes.

“This matter is presently generating a lot of public concern and discourse and is presently in the front burner of national discourse thus germane to Nigerians. By the nature of the case, it ought to be heard urgently. It is in the interest of justice to hear this matter expeditiously.

“The Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara as well as the Deputy Speaker, Yussuf Lasun; the Minority Leader, Leo Ogor; and the Chief Whip, Hassan Ado are not immune from investigation under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, even though the Hon. Speaker Hon. Yakubu Dogara has been talking tough saying that the EFCC cannot investigate him.”

SERAP added that “By virtue of Section 6 of the Economic and Fiancial Crimes Commission Act, 2004, the EFCC is statutorily empowered to investigate and prosecute economic and financial crimes committed in Nigeria. The EFCC has failed, and or refused to investigate allegations of budget padding and abuse of office leveled against the Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara as well as the Deputy Speaker, Yussuff Lasun; the Minority Leader, Leo Ogor; and the Chief Whip, Hassan Ado Doguwa.

“By a letter dated 26th July, 2016, and signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni the organization requested the EFCC to investigate allegations of budget padding and abuse of office leveled against the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Hon. Yakubu Dogara as well as the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yussuff Lasun; the Minority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor; and the Chief Whip, Hon. Hassan Ado.

“In the petition to the EFCC, SERAP requested for investigation into the following allegations of grave economic and financial crimes: the approval of N40 Billion for principal officers of the House of Representatives out of the N100 Billion approved for members of the House of Representatives for constituency project; the running of the finances of the House by the Speaker like his personal estate; and the diversion of millions of naira in the name of paying for guest houses and official residence.”

“Other allegations of economic and financial crimes include: soliciting for inappropriate favors from agencies and multi-national companies; compelling an agency to grant loans; blackmailing a construction company to do some work at the Speaker’s Asokoro, Abuja plot; and designing a scheme to scam members of the House through deductions from their salaries for supposed mortgage arrangements.

“Section 46 of Act which is the interpretation Section in the defines “economic and financial crimes” to mean the “non-violent criminal and illicit activity committed with the objectives of earning wealth illegal either individually or in a group or organized manner thereby violating existing legislation governing the economic activities of government and its administration and includes any form of fraud, embezzlement, looting and any form of corrupt malpractices.

“Section 13 (1) (b) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act empowers the General and Assets Investigation Unit of the Commission to arrest and apprehend perpetrators of economic and financial crimes.

Mandamus lies to secure the performance of a public duty in the performance which the applicant has a sufficient legal interest. The must show that he has demanded the performance of the duty and that performance has been refused by the authority obliged to discharge it”

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