The Legal Defence & Assistance Project (LEDAP) has led a suit challenging the collection and allocation of millions of naira to the state governors as security votes. LEDAP’s suit recently filed at the Federal High Court Lagos is against the 36 state governors and their houses of assembly and argues a case for restraining of the defendants from allocating moneys as security votes, an act which LEDAP argues is unconstitutional, without lawful basis and an contrary to the Defendant’s oath of offices.
The suit instituted by originating summons, LEDAP seeks the court’s determination of several key constitutional questions some of which are; whether any law in force in Nigeria allows and or authorizes the appropriation and allocation of Security vote in favour of the various state governors by their respective houses of assemblies? ; whether the appropriation and allocation of Security Votes to the Governors without any form of yardstick or estimation on the expenditure is illegal, against the public interest, and contrary to Section 121 (1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Fiscal Responsibility Act and Public Procurement Act?; whether the houses of assembly are under a legal obligation to inquire, monitor and investigate the manner and how the Security Votes appropriated to the respective Governors under their respective Appropriation Laws are disbursed and spent?; whether the failure of the houses of Assembly to inquire is not a breach of the legislator’s oath of office? LEDAP strongly questions the failure of the Governors to render public account on how the security votes are expended by them.
The reliefs sought in the suit includes: An order restraining all houses of assembly from further allocating moneys as security votes to Governors and an order that the respective Governors refund all moneys collected as security votes to the public treasury; An order compelling the houses of assembly to inquire into how the moneys allocated as security votes were expended by the respective governors; An order directing the Defendants to render written apologies to all Nigerian citizens as well as publish accounts of expenditure of security votes.
LEDAP suit and arguments therein contends that there is no law which forms basis for the allocation of moneys to state Governors by their respective Houses of assembly. It is the group’s case that it is unconstitutional and illegal for such huge sums of moneys, which run into billions of naira, to be allocated to the Governors without any form of yardstick, inquiry or accounts after expenditure of the moneys. LEDAP believes that the allocation of moneys are security votes in states with no real security issues is fraudulent and a room for corruption, particularly in a clime where the federal government is involved in fighting security challenges in all regions of the federation.