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Wednesday 10 August 2016

Budget padding: EFCC writes Clerk, Perm Sec

Budget padding: EFCC writes Clerk, Perm Sec

Buhari not executing padded budget, says Minister Udoma

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has written the National Assembly Clerk, Mohammed Sani Omolori, and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Budget and National Planning over the budget padding scandal, it was learnt yesterday.

The EFCC, which yesterday began probing the scandal rocking the House of Representatives, asked Omolori and the Permanent Secretary to produce documents on the contracts awarded by the Assembly and the budget.

At a Town hall meeting in Abuja, Minister of Budget and National Planning Udoma Udo Udoma said the government is not implementing a padded budget.

In the August 3 letter, Omolori was asked to furnish the commission with the details of all contracts awarded and executed by the Assembly from June 2015 to date.

The Permanent Secretary is to provide documents on the budget.

For about four hours yesterday, EFCC grilled former House Committee on Appropriations Chairman Abdulmumin Jibrin, who blew the scandal open following his removal by Speaker Yakubu Dogara.

Jibrin accused Dogara, Deputy Speaker Yusuff Lasun, Chief Whip Alhassan Ado Doguwa, Minority Leader Leo Ogor and nine others of padding the budget with N284 billion.

The commission aslo received a petition demanding the probe of Jibrin and the Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons(NCFRIM) for  10 contracts worth N418million, allegedly awarded to firms with links to  Jibrin.

The EFCC said it would investigate the petition.

In the letter to Omolori, EFCC demanded a “list of all contracts awarded by the Assembly from June 2015 to date.”

The letter said the Assembly must “provide the beneficiaries of the contracts, the account details into which payments were made, the total amount already paid for each contract as well as the outstanding balances where applicable.”

The EFCC asked the Permanent Secretary  to provide it with a “draft copy of the 2016 budget submitted to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari and the final copy returned to the President by the National Assembly.”

A source in the commission said: “Although no timeline was indicated in the two letters, the Clerk  and the Permanent Secretary are expected to treat it with dispatch.

“All these documents are vital to the ongoing investigation of all the petitions with us.” Jibrin, who arrived at the EFCC headquarters at about 1pm, had a four-hour session with a team raised to probe his petition.

It was gathered that the session was meant to “interact with Jibrin to enable him provide more flesh to his allegations.”

The EFCC source added: “We engaged Jibrin between 1pm and 5pm on the allegations in the petition he filed before this commission including those already in the public domain and the new ones presented to us.

“The allegations include alleged insertions of N40billion projects into the 2016 Budget by the Speaker, padding of the budget with projects worth over N284billion and padding of the budget by some committee chairmen.”

The source listed the new allegations as follows:

Duplication of contracts by Speaker Yakubu Dogara
Renting of Guest Houses for the Speaker  at very high rate
Receiving of self-rent by the Speaker and others at inflated cost when they have already got accommodation allowances.
Abuse of office and mismanagement of funds by House leadership.
Udoma said the budget signed by the President was well scrutinised and passed the due process of appropriation at the Assembly before it was assented to in May.

Responding to a question at the meeting, Udoma said: “We did not assent to a padded budget. The budget followed through the various stages of preparation and scrutiny and appropriation before it was signed into law.’’

In the petition against Jibrin, the petitioner, the Anti-Corruption Unit of National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), alleged that 10 contracts, amounting to the N418million, were awarded to firms with links to Jibrin.

The unit claimed that the contracts were awarded on September 26, 2014 to five companies with three of the firms located in Suite A47 at EFAB Mall, Area 11 in Abuja.

It alleged that one of the contracts was given to Eleku Construction Limited for “the supply of beans and millets to Kano State.”

The petition said: “No specification of some of the contracts, no completion date, no certification. Efforts to trace some of the projects have been unsuccessful.

“Jibrin was copied all the letters of the award of the contracts. No other member of the House from Kano State, no Senator from Kano State and the governor of the state was not copied.

“We call for the investigation of the culpable of Jibrin and the Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRIM).”

When contacted, the Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said: “We have commenced investigation into all the petitions submitted to us.”

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