The Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday ordered that a hearing notice be issued and served on the National Assembly and others in a suit by Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Second Vice President Monday Ubani.
Ubani and John Nwokwu, also a lawyer, are praying for an order compelling senators and House of Representatives members to refund N13.5million and N10million monthly running cost, which they allegedly collected in the last three years.
The plaintiffs are contending that the running cost is illegal as only the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) has the power to determine salaries and allowances of political office holders.
Attorney-General of the Federation, RMAFC, the Senate and the House of Representatives are the respondents.
Plaintiffs’ counsel J. O. Igwe told Justice Chuka Obiozor that the court’s sheriff failed to serve the defendants with the suit despite being “mobilised” about three weeks ago.
“We mobilised him three weeks ago. A week ago, he assured us that the proof of service was in the court’s file. But we got to court to discover the defendants have not been served. In the circumstances, we’re left with no choice than to ask for a further hearing date,” he said.
Justice Obiozor asked Ubani to make a formal complaint to the Deputy Chief Registrar and directed that hearing notice be issues and served on the respondents.
The plaintiffs, in their originating summons, are asking the court to determine whether by relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution, the National Assembly members have the power to fix their salaries, wages, remuneration or allowances.
They prayed the court to determine “whether RMAFC can delegate its power to determine the salaries or remuneration of the National Assembly or political office holders and/or if such power is subject to usurpation by the National Assembly or any other body (ies)”.
Ubani and Nwokwu asked the court to determine whether the allocation of constituency projects and funds to the tune of N200 million to the lawmakers is not ultra vires, illegal and unconstitutional.
They also prayed for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the lawmakers or their agents “from further receiving the sum of N13.5 million monthly allowances or running cost or whatever sum as a running cost and N200million as annual constituency project”.
They want the court to order the refund of all the running costs they received since 2015 within 14 days of the judgment.
Justice Obiozor adjourned until October 29 for hearing.