Tunde Bakare gives up? SNG suspends protest – heads to court

by Lekan Olanrewaju

Clearly tired of waiting for the president to take action on the report of the House of Reps fuel subsidy probe, the Save Nigeria Group has filed a lawsuit against him.

The lawsuit, filed yesterday at the Federal High Court, Lagos Division states that the withdrawal of over N2.587trillion from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, instead of the approved N245 Billion in the Appropriation Act of 2011 was a reckless violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), and gross misconduct and abuse of office on the part of President Jonathan, and seeks official legal pronouncements on the issue. Named as defendants in the suit are President Goodluck Jonathan and the Attorney General of the Federation,

The suit is asking the court to determine, among others:

I. Whether the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or any other person acting on his instructions can lawfully withdraw and expend monies from the Consolidation Revenue Fund or any other public funds of the Federation without authorization by an Appropriation Act, Supplementary Appropriation Act or any Act of the National Assembly;

ii. Whether President Jonathan, in withdrawing and/or directing the withdrawal of the unappropriated N2.587.087 trillion allegedly to meet petroleum subsidy payments for the 2011 financial year when the alleged expenditure of the said sum is neither charged upon that Consolidated Revenue Fund nor authorized by the Appropriation Act, 2011, Supplementary Appropriation Act 2011 or an act passed in pursuance of Section 81 of the Constitution, is not unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever;

iii. Whether the act of President Jonathan, in so by-passing the members of the National Assembly to withdraw the unappropriated sum of N2,587 trillion instead of the sum of N245 Billion authorized by the Appropriation Act, 2011  has not defeated and/or violently violated the mandatory provisions of Section 81(1), (2) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution (As amended) in that it denied the authorized representatives of the Nigerian people in the National Assembly the constitutional opportunity to debate this head of expenditure and approve and/or disapprove same.

The Group also wants:

I. A DECLARATION that by virtue of Sections 80(2)(3)& 81(1) & (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), neither the 1st Defendant acting as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria nor any of his authorized representatives is entitled to withdraw and/or expend monies from the Consolidation Revenue Fund or any other public funds of the Federation without authorization by an Appropriation Act, Supplementary Appropriation Act or any Act of the National Assembly.

ii. A DECLARATION that the act of the 1st Defendant in withdrawing and/or directing the withdrawal of the unappropriated sum of N2,587,087,000,000.00 (Two Trillion, Five Hundred And Eighty Seven Billion and Eighty Seven Million Naira) only from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation (instead of the sum of N245 Billion authorized by the Appropriation Act, 2011) to meet petroleum subsidy payments for the 2011 financial year when the alleged expenditure of the said unappropriated sum of N2,587,087,000,000.00 (Two Trillion, Five Hundred And Eighty Seven Billion and Eighty Seven Million Naira) is neither charged upon the Consolidated Revenue Fund nor authorized by the Appropriation Act, 2011, Supplementary Appropriation Act 2011 or an act passed in pursuance of Section 81 of the Constitution; contravenes the mandatory provisions of Section 80(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and is therefore unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

The group has also announced that it has decided not to go forward with the previously planned mass action to protest the government not prosecuting those indicted in the subsidy probe report. This, the group says, is because the EFCC has assured them that the report will be acted upon, and those indicted, brought to book.

“The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has issued a statement acknowledging receipt of the House Report with a promise to prosecute those indicted after it has done its own investigations.” read a statement by the SNG. “The EFCC’s argument seems plausible to the extent that it is not intended to pursue the agenda of an executive arm that is enmeshed in scandals and would prefer the nation forgets and moves on.”

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