Human rights activist and legal practitioner, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), yesterday challenged lawmakers to unmask the secrecy surrounding their salaries and allowances by making it public in order to dispel the mystery and misconceptions surrounding it.
Falana, who was speaking at the second anniversary of the 7th Assembly of the House of Representatives, said this disclosure would enhance the political goodwill the lawmakers were already enjoying from the Nigerian people.
He said, “Many Nigerians believe the statement credited to an eminent scholar, Professor Itse Sagay (SAN), that the members of the National Assembly are the highest paid legislators in the world. In order to end the diversionary controversy on the matter, I had, in Falana V National Assembly, challenged the constitutional validity of the jumbo emoluments of federal legislators. But the federal high court upheld the objection of the defendant that the plaintiff lacked the locus standi to maintain the suit.
“While I was ruminating over the verdict, the same court directed the defendant in LEPAD v National Assembly to disclose the details of the salary and allowances of members of the National Assembly to Nigerians in line with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
“Instead of complying with the judgment, the National Assembly has curiously taken the matter to the Court of Appeal. Therefore, as a matter of principle, I urge you make your salaries and allowances public knowledge.”
On the ongoing budget stand-off between the executive and the legislature, which he described as “the height of impunity on the part of the executive”, Falana urged the House not to back down by not considering the amendment sent by the executive, adding that the position taken by the lawmakers was lawful.