The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, says it has filed a lawsuit asking the Federal High Court in Lagos to stop the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, from paying former Plateau State Governor, Joshua Dariye a sum of N14.2 million monthly allowances while he serves out his 10-year prison sentence for corruption. SERAP says it filed the suit because it believes that such payment violates Nigerian law and international obligations.
In a statement made available to Network8 TV on Sunday, SERAP says according to the lawsuit, Dariye is still receiving the N750,000 salary and N13.5 million monthly allowances from the Nigeran Senate running into about N85.5 million six months after his conviction.
SERAP is therefore seeking an order restraining Saraki and the National Assembly Service Commission from paying Dariye any further allowances while serving his jail term. The organization is also seeking a declaration that Dariye’s seat in the Senate be “automatically deemed vacant, having being convicted and sentenced to a prison term and currently serving jail term and having been absent at the sessions of the Senate for a period amounting in the aggregate to more than one-third of the total number of days allowed, and that he is therefore, not entitled to any allowances reserved for a sitting and serving senator.”
Part of the statement from SERAP read, …“Mr Saraki and the National Assembly Service Commission 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.
“…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.”
Joined as Defendants in the suit filed on Friday are: Joshua Dariye and the National Assembly Service Commission.
An FCT High Court in June 2018, convicted Dariye for diverting N1.162 billion ecological funds belonging to Plateau State 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.