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SERAP Takes Lawan, Gbajabiamila To Court Over Corruption Probes



Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila over “their failure to publish reports of all completed public hearings and corruption probes by the National Assembly since 1999, and failure to disclose the number of probes that have resulted in any indictment of suspects, and to name such suspects.”

The suit followed recent public hearings by the National Assembly on corruption allegations in ministries, departments and agencies, including the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), and Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF). Reports of several public hearings and corruption probes have remained secret, and the allegations unresolved.

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1065/2020 filed last week at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP is seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel Dr Lawal and Mr Gbajabiamila to send all reports of completed public hearings and corruption probes to appropriate anti-corruption agencies to consider if there is sufficient admissible evidence to pursue prosecution.”

SERAP is also seeking: “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus to direct and/or compel Dr Lawal and Mr Gbajabiamila to widely publish all reports of completed public hearings and corruption probes by the Senate and the House of Representatives, and to disclose the number and names of any indicted suspects since 1999.”

SERAP is asking the court for “an order of mandamus to direct and compel Dr Lawal and Mr Gbajabiamila to sponsor a resolution to stop lawmakers from directly getting involved in the execution of projects by MDAs, and to ensure the proper and effective exercise of their oversight functions over corruption allegations including in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).”

The suit followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information (FoI) requests dated 25 July, 2020, stating that: “The most effective way to deter corruption is to make the cost of engaging in these types of acts higher than the rewards. This end can only be accomplished by making public the reports and pursuing public accountability for corrupt acts.”

In the suit, SERAP is arguing that: “The court ought to compel Dr Lawal and Mr Gbajabiamila to publish the reports of hearings and probes and to send the reports to appropriate anti-corruption agencies for prosecution. Granting the reliefs sought would bolster public trust and confidence in the lawmakers’ oversight functions, and dispel the perception that many of the hearings and probes are politically motivated and serve personal interest, rather than the general public interests.”

SERAP is also arguing that: “Nigerians have the right to information, as guaranteed under Section 39(1) of the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which the country has ratified and domesticated as part of its national laws.”

READ ALSO: Increase In Fuel Price, Electricity Tariff Will Endanger Nigerians– SERAP

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi, read in part: “There is no legally justifiable reason why the information should not be made widely available to Nigerians, and why the prosecution of indicted suspects should not be pursued, where there is relevant admissible evidence.

“Public officers are mere custodians of public records. There is legitimate public interest in the publication of the reports of these public hearings and probes. The public hearings and probes can only serve as effective mechanisms to prevent and combat corruption if their reports are widely published.

“The exercise of oversight functions and powers by the Nationa…
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[10:07 AM, 9/13/2020] Sanni Oyiza: Flood Sweeps Away Two Children In Lagos

Two yet-to-be-identified children were at the weekend swept away by flood in Kosofe Local Government, Lagos State.

The Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) in a statement on Sunday said a search operation is ongoing to find the missing children.

It was gathered that the children fell into the flood current while trying to leave a flooded area that led to the community access road.

The Director-General, LASEMA, Dr Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, through a statement made available to newsmen on Sunday, said that the incident occurred at about 8:00 pm in the state.

Oke-Osanyintolu noted that a joint team of responders including Lagos State Fire services, and the state Ambulance Bus Services (LASAMBUS) were already at scene to ensure the rescue.

He said: “The agency received distress calls concerning the above. On arrival at the scene of the incident it was discovered that, around 8 pm, two children had been caught up by floodwater.

“A joint team of responders comprising Agency responders, LASG Fire Service and LASAMBUS was at the scene.

“The Agency’s tiger team commenced a search and rescue operation along the path of the floodwater.

“Initial observations revealed a sloping topography with a direct channel of drain water into the canal. This has proven to be rather challenging to navigate. Rescue operation remains ongoing.”

He urged members to “exercise extreme caution, particularly with young children, in flood-prone and low lying areas”.

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