The Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the service of court processes on the National Assembly in a suit challenging the running costs of N13.5m and N10m which senators and House of Representatives members, respectively, allocated for themselves.
The scheduled hearing in the suit filed by two legal practitioners, Messrs Monday Ubani and John Nwokwu, was stalled on Tuesday due to the failure of the court sheriff to serve the court processes on the defendants.
The defendants in the suit are the Attorney General of the Federation, the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The plaintiffs are praying for a court order compelling members of the National Assembly to refund all they had collected in the last three years as running costs.
They want the money refunded within 14 days of the judgment.
When the case was called on Tuesday before Justice Chuka Obiozor, counsel for the plaintiff, J.O. Igwe, expressed surprise that the defendants had not been served with the court processes despite that the plaintiffs had “mobilised” the court sheriff.
“We mobilised him (sheriff) three weeks ago. A week ago, he assured us that the proof of service was in court. But we got to court to discover that the defendants have not been served.
“In the circumstances, we’re left with no choice but to ask for a further hearing date,” Igwe told the judge.
Consequently, Justice Obiozor adjourned hearing in the case till October 29, 2018 after the annual long vacation of the court.
Ubani and Nwokwu are, in the suit, contending that the N10m and N13.5m monthly running costs which the lawmakers fixed for themselves were illegal.
They are urging the court to hold that only the RMAFC had the power to determine salaries and allowances of National Assembly members and other public office holders.
The two lawyers are asking the court to determine whether by relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the National Assembly members have the power to fix their salaries, wages, remuneration or allowances.
They are also asking the court to determine “whether RMAFC can delegate its power to determine the salaries or remuneration of the National Assembly or political office-holders and/or if such power is subject to usurpation by the National Assembly or any other body(ies).”
They also want the court to determine whether the allocation of constituency projects and funds to the tune of N200m to members of the National Assembly is not ultra vires, illegal and unconstitutional.
They are praying the court for a perpetual injunction “restraining the National Assembly, whether by themselves, officers, agents, privies, servants or through any person or persons howsoever, from further receiving the sum of N13.5m monthly allowances or running cost or whatever sum as a running cost and N200m as annual constituency project.”