National Assembly

National Assembly Clerk Mohammed Sani Omolori has been asked to give the 2016 budget to the police Special Investigation panel (SIP) probing allegations of budget padding.

The Clerk is also expected to submit to the panel a copy of the 2016 budget proposal presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari. This is to enable the panel examine allegations of padding against some principal officers of the House of Representatives.

But the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed an application at the Federal High Court, Abuja, seeking an order of mandamus to compel the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the allegations against House Speaker Yakubu Dogara and three others.

The others are the Deputy Speaker Yussuff Lasun; Minority Leader Leo Ogor and Chief Whip Hassan Ado Doguwa.

The Amodu Ali led-SIP, in a September 9 letter, which was tagged a “reminder”, asked Omolori to make the budget copies available.

It was gathered that the Clerk had cited the vacation of the lawmakers as the reason behind his delay in submitting the versions of the 2016 budget to the police.
The panel however told the CNA that he is a civil servant and the vacation of the lawmakers has nothing to do with his service to the nation.

A source, who spoke with our correspondent, said: “In the last two months, we have been asking the CNA to submit the affected versions of the 2016 budget but he has been evasive.

“He blamed the delay initially on a trip abroad and later he said the lawmakers were on vacation. He said the copies will not be available until the lawmakers return from break.

“Ahead of the resumption, we wrote a fresh letter of reminder to the CNA just before the Sallahholidays. The letter was submitted by an Assistant Commissioner of Police, who is the Nigeria Police Force Liaison Officer in the National Assembly.

“The panel has reminded the CNA that he is a civil servant, who ought to place service to the nation above any other consideration. If he does not produce the copies, we know what to do next.”

Responding to a question, the source added: “In fact, we have received all documents from the petitioner, the ousted Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin.

“We need the budget copies from the National Assembly; we are expecting cooperation from the bureaucrats in the place.”
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP, has filed an application at the Federal High Court, Abuja seeking an order to compel the EFCC to investigate the allegations of padding against the Speaker Dogara and three others.

The others are Deputy Speaker Lasun; Minority Leader Ogor and Chief Whip Doguwa.
The suit, dated September 15, was filed by Falana and Falana Chambers.

The organization sought the following reliefs:
*an order compelling the respondent to investigate allegations of budget padding and abuse of office levelled against the Speaker as well as the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yussuff Lasun; the Minority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor; and the Chief Whip, Hon. Hassan Ado Doguwa;
*a declaration that the failure of the respondent to investigate allegations of budget padding and abuse of office leveled against the Speaker and the others is illegal and unconstitutional as it violates Section 6 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act, 2004;
*an order of Mandamus compelling the respondent to investigate allegations of budget padding and abuse of office levelled against the Speaker and the others; and
*for such order or other orders as court may deem fit to make in the circumstance.
In an affidavit, Abubakar Marshal from Falana and Falana Chambers said: “That this matter is to compel the respondent, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC to investigate allegations of budget padding and abuse of office levelled against the Speaker and the others.

“That this matter is presently generating a lot of public concern and discourse and is presently on the front burner of national discourse, thus germane to Nigerians.
“That by the nature of the case, it ought to be heard urgently.
“That it is in the interest of justice to hear this matter expeditiously.
“That I make this declaration in good faith.”
In the facts in support of the application, SERAP said as follows:
“The Respondent (EFCC) is an agency of the Federal Government charged with the responsibility to enforce all laws dealing with economic and financial crimes in Nigeria.

“By a letter dated 26th July, 2016, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) requested the Respondent to investigate allegations of budget padding and abuse of office leveled against the Speaker and the others.
“In the petition to the respondent, we requested for investigation into the following allegations of grave economic and financial crimes:
1. The approval of N40billion for principal officers of the House of Representatives out of the N100 billion approved for members of the House of Representatives for constituency project.
2. The running of the finances of the House by the Speaker like his personal estate.
3. The diversion of millions of naira in the name of paying for guest houses and official residence.
4. Soliciting for inappropriate favors from agencies and multi-national companies.
5. Compelling an agency to grant loans.
6. Blackmailing a construction company to do some work at the Speaker’s Asokoro, Abuja plot.
7. Designing a scheme to scam members of the House through deductions from their salaries for supposed mortgage arrangements
“The respondent received and stamped the said Petition on the 26th of July, 2016. Attached herewith and marked Exhibit “A” and “B” respectively are copies of the said Petition and the acknowledgment of service.

“The respondent has failed, and or refused to investigate allegations of budget padding and abuse of office leveled against the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Hon. Yakubu Dogara as well as the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yussuf Lasun; the Minority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor; and the Chief Whip, Hon. Hassan Ado for undisclosed reasons.

“Unless the reliefs sought by the Applicant are granted, the Respondent will not investigate the Speaker and others for grave financial and economic crimes.

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