A member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Igariwey Iduma-Enwo, on Wednesday approached an Abuja Federal High Court to challenge the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari, to rescue states in the country from their financial mess with a bailout of N713.7bn.
Many states were already owing backlog of unpaid salaries by May 29 when Buhari assumed office as President.
They later turned to the Federal Government, cap in hand, seeking for rescue, a development that informed the President’s action.
But, in suit number FHC/Abj/CS102215, which the Peoples Democratic Party lawmaker from Ebonyi State filed on Wednesday, he sought to know whether Buhari had such powers under the 1999 Constitution to give the bailout without the approval of the National Assembly.
Listed as defendants in the suit were the President; Attorney-General of the Federation; Federal Ministry of Finance; Accountant-General of the Federation; Auditor-General of the Federation; and the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission.
Among the questions Iduma-Enwo, who represents Afikpo-North/South Federal Constituency, wants the court to determine, was whether Buhari, could by Presidential “fiat”, direct that public money from the pool account of the federal government be disbursed to states and local governments without recourse to the National Assembly, “the authority vested with the power of appropriation in this case.”
Part of the originating summons read, “Whether having regards to the combined effect of Sections 192, 163, 164 and 168 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which prescribes the way and manner public revenue shall be distributed from the distribution pool account, the 1st Defendant (Buhari) can by itself or by way of fiat, issue lawful directives to the 3rd-6th defendants to appropriate, distribute, allocate and disburse public revenue from the distributable pool account to the federal, state and local government without the prescription of the National Assembly. “
Accordingly, the plaintiff prayed the court to declare the action of the President and his co-defendants “unconstitutional, illegal, unlawful, null and void.”
He also sought an order of “perpetual injunction” restraining the defendants from giving out funds to the states and local governments without the prescription of the National Assembly.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
Speaking with journalists at the National Assembly soon after filing the suit, Iduma-Enwo defended his decision to challenge Buhari on the grounds of acting alone without regard for the principle of separation of powers.
He noted that much as he felt for the states, especially now that many civil servants could not fend for their families due to lack of salaries, Iduma-Enwo argued that the President must still follow the “due process of law.”
“Let him show us where it is stated in the constitution that the President can unilaterally give money without the approval of the National Assembly.
“It then means that one day they can sit at Aso Rock and pass the national budget.
“Why do we have the National Assembly if matters like this can be handled by fiat without letting the National Assembly know about it or play its role as the appropriating authority?,”he added.