Court dismisses Falana's suit against National Assembly

A Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday dismissed a suit filed by a popular Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana, challenging the National Assembly’s “unconstitutional jumbo salaries and allowances paid to its members”.

The Senate, House of Representatives, Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Accountant General of the Federation are the defendants in the suit filed by Mr. Falana.

The chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Ibrahim Auta, held that Mr. Falana lacks the ‘locus standi’ to institute the action.

Mr. Auta, said that the suit did not disclose any reasonable cause of action.

He added that the action was “speculative, hypothetical, academic and moot” because the plaintiff did not establish how the action of the National Assembly had affected him personally.

The judge held that the third defendant (Revenue Mobilization Allocation and fiscal Commission) is the ideal institution to institute such action.

“Locus is a constitutional issue; the trite law does not bestow the right to institute this suit by the plaintiff.

“This is not issues around fundamental rights violation; the fact that he is a legal practitioner does not confer him the locus,” the judge said.

Mr. Auta said that the plaintiff must prove how he has been affected by the allowances of the Nigerian legislators.

“He must show by way of affidavit evidence, how the increase in the salaries and allowances of the Senators and House of Representatives members has negatively affected him.

“The interest of the plaintiff must be tangible, real in law and not a caricature that stems from personal aggrandizement; the suit is therefore dismissed for lacking in merit,” Mr. Auta said.

Kenneth Ikonne, a senior advocate and counsel to the Senate and the House of Representatives, had prayed the court to dismiss the suit on the grounds of incompetence and abuse of court process.

He argued that Mr. falana had no locus standi to institute the suit, adding that the court was bereft of jurisdiction to entertain the case.

Mr. Ikonne also prayed the court to hold that the plaintiff is nothing but a “meddlesome interloper”.

Mr. Falana had in 2011 approached the court claiming that the National Assembly lacks the powers to increase salaries and allowances of its members.

He asked the court to declare unconstitutional, the allowances provided for the members in the Appropriation Act, 2010.

The plaintiff further asked the court to order the lawmakers to refund to the treasury all unauthorised salaries and allowances received by them since May 29, 2007.

He asked the Court to determine whether the senators and members of the house are entitled to receive salaries and allowances not determined by the Revenue Mobilsation and Fiscal Allocation Commission pursuant to Section 70 of the Constitution.

Mr. Falana further prayed the Court to determine whether the senate and the house are competent to determine the salaries and allowances of the members of the National Assembly.

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