A lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to block all illegal payments received by federal lawmakers.
This is coming as Nigerians continue to criticise the jumbo pay members of the Senate receive each month in addition to their legitimate salaries and allowances.
Mr. Falana was reacting to a revelation by Shehu Sani, the senator representing Kaduna Central.
Mr. Sani had in an interview with TheNews revealed that he and his colleagues receive N13.5 million monthly as “running cost”, aside a N750, 000 monthly consolidated salary and allowances which they also receive.
Mr. Sani’s revelation is the first by a lawmaker from the Senate since the clamour by Nigerians for a full disclosure of lawmakers’ earnings.
The revelation has sparked widespread anger among Nigerians who had always criticised the lawmakers for arbitrarily allocating jumbo pay to themselves at a time the country direly needs funds for developmental projects.
Mr. Falana in a statement on Sunday said the emoluments of the lawmakers goes beyond what was declared by the senator.
“Apart from the monthly package of N13.8 million, each senator is given the opportunity to execute constituency projects to the tune of N200 million per annum. However, the disclosure made by Senator Sani does not cover the allowances for cars, housing, wardrobe, furniture etc running to several millions of Naira approved for each senator.
“Last year, the legislators also illegally purchased exotic cars of N4.7 billion for themselves when workers were owed arrears of salaries and the masses were groaning under a recession caused by the profligacy and mismanagement of the national economy by the ruling class.”
While thanking Mr. Sani for the revelation, he said the exposure confirms a statement by the chairman of the Presidential Advisory Council, Itse Sagay, that Nigerian legislators are the highest paid in the world.
He blamed the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission for condoning such payments without questioning since 1999.
He tasked the Buhari administration to ensure that no public office holder is paid unapproved salaries and allowances.
“The Buhari administration owes the nation a duty to ensure that no political officer is paid salaries and allowances that have not been approved by the Revenue Mobilization. Allocation Fiscal Commission. The federal government should, as a matter of urgency, halt the payment of double salary and allowances to a number of legislators and ministers.”
Mr. Falana also called on Nigerians to support the whistle blower, especially now that his colleagues are planning retributive measures against him for making such revelation.
PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday reported that some lawmakers are already discreetly working out modalities to deal with the Kaduna lawmaker.
“Sadly, it has been reported in the press that there are moves in the Senate to place Senator Shehu Sani on indefinite suspension for spilling the beans on the payment of the illegal salaries and allowances to federal legislators.
“Having discharged a public duty by blowing the whistle on a matter of crucial national importance, all lovers of democracy and public accountability in Nigeria should rally round the senator by ensuring that he is not harassed for exercising his constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right to freedom of expression.
“In view of the duty imposed on all authorities and persons in Nigeria by virtue of section 287 of the Constitution, to comply with the judgment of every competent court, Senator Sani cannot be penalized for disclosing the salaries and allowances of federal legislators in compliance with the valid and subsisting orders of the federal high court.”