Police to summon Reps principal officers over budget padding scandal

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It was gathered that the Special Investigation Panel probing the budget padding allegations will send fresh invitations to the Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and other principal officers named in the scandal.

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It was learnt that the panel, headed by a retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Ali Amodu, would send the invitations when the National Assembly resume this week.

Police sources stated that the SIP had covered a lot of ground in its quest to unearth the culprits behind the alleged padding of N280bn in the 2016 budget.

The former Chairman, House of Representatives Appropriation Committee, Abdulmumin Jibrin, had in a petition asked the police to investigate the alleged padding of the budget by Dogara and other principal officers.

Those indicted by Jibrin included the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Lasun Yussuff; the Chief Whip, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; and the Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor.

Jibrin appeared before the police panel investigating his petition with documents to back up his allegations, but the speaker and others mentioned did not honour the police invitation.

The ex- appropriation committee boss had also submitted a petition against the accused to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, urging the agencies to probe the principal officers.

A source, however, said on Friday that the police would issue fresh invitations to the house officers, stressing that the men must come and defend themselves.

He said, “The fact is that the house officers, including the speaker, have no immunity against investigation or prosecution; anybody could be investigated including governors and the President.

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“The immunity of the governors and the President does not preclude investigation. It only protects them while in office, but once they are out of office, they could be prosecuted.

“The panel has covered a lot of ground with the documents at its disposal, and it will invite the men (lawmakers) when they are ready to interrogate them and anyone who fails to show up has tacitly admitted that he is guilty of the allegations against him.”

It was further gathered that the panel would not let up on the National Assembly Clerk, Mohammed Sani-Omolori, till he submitted the draft and final copies of the 2016 budget to detectives.

Meanwhile, there were strong indications on Saturday that supporters of Dogara, and those who are opposed to him will clash when the House resumes on Tuesday.

It was gathered that members, who were opposed to the Speaker, would raise the allegations of budget padding on the floor of the House.

It was learnt that anti-speaker forces, including Jibrin and the Transparency Group would insist that Dogara and his deputy, Yusuf Lanus, should step down.

Jibrin had, last month, sent a petition to the police, the Department of State Services, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission as well as the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission.

In the letter, he alleged that the principal officers padded the budget by N280bn, an allegation that the principal officers had denied.

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What asked what would happen in the House on Tuesday, Chairman of the Transparency Group, Mohammed Soba, said, “All we are saying is that those accused by Jibrin should come out clean and before then, they must step aside and submit themselves for investigations.

“At this stage, nobody is saying they are guilty or not, but at least a case has been established against them. They have to come out clean before they continue if they are not found guilty.”

But a member of the House, Golu Timothy, said on Tuesday, that the attention of the House would be on the economic challenges facing Nigeria and preparations for the 2017 budget.

Timothy said, “Our attention is on the 2017 budget. If you waste time on that (Jibrin’s allegation) we will not have time to monitor the implementation of the 2016 budget and work on the 2017 budget.”

Speaking in a similar vein, another member of the House, Adamu Kamale, said, “Jibrin has been speaking out of the blue. I don’t think what he has been saying is what has happened in the National Assembly. The House leaders have not done anything wrong. What they (leadership) did was in line with the rules of the House and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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“The person that we suspect to have illegally tampered with the budget is Jibrin himself. As far as we are concerned, Jibrin’s issue is not an issue at all.”

Also on Saturday, Jibrin in a 17-page letter dated September 16, 2016, called for Dogara’s resignation.

In the letter, Jibrin accused the four principal officers of monumental fraud, corruption and abuse of office.

He explained among other things that he was left with no option but to take his case to the media in order to tell his side of the story.

The lawmaker named eight of his colleagues, whom he accused of moving massive amounts of money into ministries and agencies they oversaw, with an intention to commit fraud.

He also alleged that his life had been threatened by those he had exposed.

When contacted, Special Adviser (Media) to the Speaker, Mr. Turaki Hassan, declined comments. In response to enquiries on the allegations, he said, “No comments.”

Deputy Speaker, Yusuf Lasun, through his spokesman, Mr. Wole Oladimeji, said, “I have not seen the letter. When I see it, we will take it from there. But with all due respect, Jibrin is not the one to dictate to the House.”

In response to enquiries, Minority Leader of the House, Leo Ogor, said, “We are almost there (Tuesday), and we will get to the root of the matter.”

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