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Government & Politics

Panic As EFCC Probes National Assembly’s N300bn Allocation In 2014, 2015 Budgets

Ekweremadu
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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has finally started probe into the National Assembly’s N300bn Allocation in 2014, 2015 Budgets.

Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu
The decision of the Federal Government to start investigation on how the 2014 and 2015 budgetary allocations of the National Assembly were expended has created panic in some quarters.
On Friday the the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had demanded details of the budgets totalling N300bn from the National Assembly clerk, Sani Omolori. He was also mandated to produce details of the contracts awarded by the assembly.
Following this development, some principal officers of the seventh and the current eighth National Assembly would be invited in the coming months for interrogation.
It would be recalled that a former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin, alleged padding of the 2016 budget, but the EFCC is extending its investigations to 2014 and 2015 fiscal years.
Jibrin, in his petition, had alleged that the Speaker of the House, Mr. Yakubu Dogara and three other principal officers padded the 2016 budget.
A top official of the EFCC confided in Saturday PUNCH that although Jibrin’s petition bothered on the 2016 budget, funds had not been released for the projects allegedly inserted in the budget.
The principal officers including the then Senate President, Senator David Mark, and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, would be invited by the commission for questioning.
For the eight National Assembly, besides Dogara, the current Senate President, Dr.Bukola Saraki; Ekweremadu and the Deputy Speaker, Sulaiman Lasun, will also be quizzed, Punch reports.
The official stated, “You know the National Assembly has never made its budget public. Besides Jibrin’s petitions, there are others that will make investigations into the 2014 and 2015 budgets inevitable.”
However, the Deputy Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Shehu Sani, revealed that the probe is the same as meddling in the affairs of the legislature by the executive.
He noted that the security and anti-graft agencies are arms of the executive. He asked why the agencies were not paying attention to the executive and the judiciary.
Sani said, “The anti-corruption agencies are showing more interest in allegations against members of the National Assembly than against members of the executive and the judiciary. And the discriminatory responses of the anti-corruption agencies are an ill wind that will blow no one any good. It simply discredits the agencies as well as raise suspicions on their activities.
 
“The National Assembly is not immune to the law that is applicable to anybody in this country but the anti-corruption agencies must respect the independence of the legislature and seek an informed opinion whenever they are delving into issues that concern the legislature because they are still seen as part of the executive. They must know that any of their actions, naturally, will be interpreted as a calculated attempt to undermine the activities of the National Assembly.
 
The lawmaker, who is representing Kaduna-Central at the Senate, however, added that no legislature should “in any way take advantage of its esteemed position and the privileges of its esteemed position to commit crime with the expectation of immunity or impunity.”

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