The activists said in the lawsuit that spending such an amount on cars in Nigeria’s present economic state was “unjust and fair” and contradicts their oath on taking office to prioritize the welfare of citizens.
The class action was brought forward by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), BudgIT and by 6,721 Nigerians including Bring Back our Girls campaigner and former presidential candidate Oby Ezekwesili.
“They can have official cars but why would they spend such an amount buying cars for 109 Senators when more than half of Nigerians are living in abject poverty,” the group’s spokesman Kola Oludare told CNN.
CNN has reached out to Nigeria’s Senate spokesman Dayo Adeyeye for comment to the group’s petition but is yet to receive a response.
However, in an interview with a local TV station on Sunday, Adeyeye said he was not aware that the stated amount had been budgeted for buying the vehicles. He added that many of Nigeria’s public officials were entitled to official cars and the legislators should not be denied similar benefits.
Legislators and top government officials get car allowances on assuming public offices in Nigeria.
But the advocacy group SERAP argued that lawmakers make up a small fraction of the country’s population and their needs should be not placed above the welfare of 200 million Nigerians.
“The plan to spend N5.550 billion to buy vehicles for principal members of the Senate is a textbook case of a conflict of their personal interests with national interest of fiscal efficiency,” the lawsuit says.