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Monday, 15 January 2018

Budget padding: AGF may file charges against culpable lawmakers

Budget padding: AGF may file charges against culpable lawmakers

Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, Abubakar Malami

The Attorney General of the Federation may soon file criminal charges against members of the National Assembly fingered in the alleged padding of the 2016 Federal Government’s budget.

The budget was allegedly padded to the tune of N481bn by some principal officers of the National Assembly, who fraudulently introduced some projects into the budget.

The Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday granted leave for an order of mandamus to compel the AGF to file criminal charges against the lawmakers who allegedly padded the budget.

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Justice Mohammed Idris made the order in favour of a social rights advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project.

SERAP, in a statement on Sunday by its Deputy Director, Adewale Timothy, said Justice Idris’ decision had paved the way for it to move the AGF, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to prosecute the concerned federal lawmakers.

It said, “The decision by Justice Mohammed Idris last Friday has now cleared the way for SERAP to advance its case against the Federal Government on the publication of the reports of investigation into the allegations of budget padding and prosecution of indicted officers of the National Assembly.

“The decision also grants permission to SERAP to seek an order to compel the Federal Government to ‘closely monitor and scrutinise the spending of N131bn (accrued from increased oil benchmark) allocated for additional non-constituency projects expenditure, to remove the possibility of corruption.’”

The organisation had, in his suit marked FHC/L/CS/1821/2017, which it filed last year, contended that “unless the principal officers indicted in the alleged padding of the 2016 budget are prosecuted and any stolen public funds recovered, the Federal Government will not be able to stop padding of future budgets.

“Alleged corruption in the budget process will not just melt away or simply evaporate without addressing the fundamental issue of impunity of perpetrators.

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