Nigerian lawyer asks court to declare budget padding illegal

download (4)A Port Harcourt-based lawyer, Ambrose Owuru, has approached a Federal High Court in Abuja to pronounce on the constitutionality of budget padding by members of the National Assembly.

Former Chairman of House of Representatives, Hon Jibrin Abdulmumin had alleged that principal officers of the House of Representatives led by Speaker Yakubu Dogara had padded the budget to the tune of several billions of naira under the guise of legislating.

The disclosure had brought the issue of budget padding to front burner of discussion with some describing it as illegal, unconstitutional and act of corruption while others did not see anything wrong about it.

The lawyer who approached the court is urging it to determine whether members of the National Assembly could unilaterally insert or engage, “under any guise, in acts of ‘budget padding.’”

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He submits that by virtue of sections 58 and 80 (4) of the 1999 Constitution, the National Assembly’s unilateral insertions of ‘constituency projects’ and ‘acts of padding’ in the annual budgetary estimate as presented to it by the executive, is “a violation of the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.”

Owuru, who is also the National Chairman of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP), also wants an order compelling the National Assembly to initiate and pass provisions in the electoral law prohibiting politically motivated violence and deaths at elections.

He further prays the court to bar identified and implicated candidates and their sponsors from participation in future elections.

In an originating summons filed on his behalf by G. O. Agbo, he alleged that the lawmakers sought to use the money from their ‘constituency projects’ insertions to “equip themselves for future elections”.

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No date has been fixed for hearing.