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Economy

SERAP Sues Akpabio Over Failure to Probe Budget Padding, Recall Ningi

By Adedapo Adesanya

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against the Senate President, Mr Godswill Akpabio, over the failure to refer the alleged N3.7 trillion budget padding to the appropriate anti-corruption agencies for investigation and prosecution, and to recall Senator Abdul Ningi who blew the whistle on the allegations.

It would be recalled that Mr Ningi was suspended in March for three months over his allegations that the 2024 budget was padded by over N3 trillion.

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/452/2024 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP is seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel Mr Akpabio to refer the alleged N3.7 trillion budget padding to appropriate anti-corruption agencies for investigation and prosecution of suspected perpetrators.”

The group also prayed for “an order of mandamus to direct and compel Mr Akpabio to immediately take steps to ensure the reinstatement of whistleblower Abdul Ningi who was suspended from the Senate over his allegations that the lawmakers padded the 2024 budget by irregularly inserting projects worth N3.7 trillion.”

In the suit, SERAP also argued that: “Granting this application would serve the public interest, encourage whistleblowers to speak up, improve public services, and ensure transparency and accountability in the management of public resources.”

“Directing Mr Akpabio to refer these allegations to appropriate anti-corruption agencies and to reinstate whistleblower Abdul Ningi would be entirely consistent and compatible with the letter and spirit of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] and the country’s international obligations,” it added, noting that, “The allegations by Senator Ningi amount to public interest disclosures and can contribute to strengthening transparency and democratic accountability in the Senate in particular and the country as a whole.”

“Suspension of Senator Ningi by the Senate followed a seriously flawed process and it amounts to retaliation,” the suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare and Mrs Adelanke Aremo, read in part.

Business Post reports that the court is yet to fix a date for hearing of the case.

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