Posted on Thu 21 Jun 2018, 04:37 PM

A Federal High Court in Abuja, has ruled that the National Assembly has the power to increase – or review upward – budget estimates laid before it by the executive. 

This followed a suit by Seniir advicate of Nigeria Femi Falana, in which he listed the President, the Attorney-General of the Federation, the National Assembly and the Auditor-General of the Federation as respondents.

The Plaintiff (Falana) had asked the Court to determine  four questions whether by Section 81 of the Constitution, the National Assembly can increase or review upward any aspect of the estimates of the revenues and expenditure of the Federation for the next financial year prepared and laid before it by the Executive.

He also sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Parliament from increasing budget estimates laid before it by the Executive.

In his ruling, the Judge Gabriel O. Kolawole stated that the questions as posed by Falana’s counsel, bordered on interpretations of the specific provisions of the Constitution which relate to the exercise of the National Assembly’s constitutional legislative powers, and that the essence of the suit is that NASS, under the guise of exercising oversight functions, usurps executive powers; an assertion which the judgment subsequently nullified.

The judge, in his verdict, further noted that the whole purpose of sections 81, 85, 88 and 89 is to ensure that Executive and agencies under its control are subjected to some form of oversight by Parliament.

With regard to the question concerning the powers of the National Assembly to audit public accounts or appoint auditors, the Judge stated that while the Constitution does not explicitly grant this power, “in so far as that duty is vested in the Auditor-General of the Federation, Parliament still retains legislative oversight powers over the AGF even in respect of these matters.”

On investigative powers, the court ruled that Parliament can, via resolutions, “direct agencies of government to conduct investigations.

All seven reliefs sought by Falana against the National Assembly were, thus, not granted.

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