8 years ago by: Omogbolahan Babs
-- (m) at 27-06-2012 02:00PM (8 years ago)

(1213 | Gistmaniac)

Symbol of  justice

Tobi Soniyi

A Federal High Court  in Abuja yesterday ordered the Clerk of the National Assembly to release to Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), a non governmental organisation details of the salary, emolument and allowances collected by legislators between 2007 and 2011.

In a judgment delivered by Justice B.B. Aliyu in a suit filed by LEDAP against the leadership of the National Assembly under the Freedom of Information Act, the judge held that the FOI Act permitted the organisation  to demand for any public information such as the details of salaries, emoluments and allowances earned by the legislators.

The judge said that the matter was of public interest since the payments were from public funds.

LEDAP had in September 2011 filed a suit to compel the clerk of NASS to furnish it with the requested information.

LEDAP claimed in the suit that the legislators were overpaid beyond the rate approved by law.

LEDAP has earlier written to the Clerk of the National Assembly for the information on the earnings of the legislators and demanded refund of over-payments but the request was ignored, leading to the suit.

The National Assembly argued through its counsel, Yunus Ustaz Usman (SAN), that the information requested by LEDAP was not permitted to be released under the FoI Act, and that the NGO lacked the locus standi to make such request.
Overruling the objections, the judge said every citizen was entitled to have access to public information under the FoI Act.

The court  ordered the Clerk of NASS to release the requested information within 14 days of the judgment.

It will be recalled that at the end of the 6th National Assembly in June 2011, it was widely reported that some legislators collected as much as N100million per quarter in allowances, excluding official salaries and emoluments, and that principals officers collected even more.