The 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 saying that 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 (NASSC).
In the suit filed last Friday, SERAP said Saraki and the NASSC 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,” SERAP stated.
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 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.”
According to SERAP, unless the reliefs sought are granted, Mr Saraki and the NASSC will continue to act in flagrant defiance of the judgement of the court, the independence and authority of the court, and the rule of law.
“It is in the interest of justice to grant this application as the Defendants have nothing to lose if the application is granted,” it stated.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.