26 June 2012

Nigerian court awards access to parliamentarians salaries

The Abuja Federal High Court has ordered the National Assembly of Nigeria to release details of the salaries and allowances paid to its members between 2007 and 2011.

In 2011 the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) filed a request for the information under the Freedom of Information Act. The National Assembly refused to provide the information, arguing that the earnings of the parliamentarians were beyond the scope of the Act.

LEDAP filed an appeal against the refusal with the court, seeking an order requiring the National Assembly to release the requested information within 14 days.

The judge found that the payments were of public interest because they were made from public funds and therefore fell within the scope of the Freedom of Information Act. Accordingly, he granted the order sought by LEDAP and the National Assembly must now produce the information within 14 days.

LEDAP reportedly believe that the parliamentarians are being paid more than their legally approved salaries and allowances and hope to use the information, once released, to force any additional sums received to be returned to the public purse.