SERAP Seeks Probe Of Alleged N40b Budget Padding

 SERAP Seeks Probe Of Alleged N40b Budget Padding

SERAPThe Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called for an independent probe into the alleged N40 billion 2016 budget padding by the National Assembly.
SERAP’s Executive Director Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni yesterday, in a statement, urged Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara to allow the anti-graft agencies probe allegations of budget padding by its leadership.
He advised the Speaker to allow the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate the allegation.
The executive director said the leadership of the House was alleged to have padded the 2016 budget by N40 billion.
“SERAP’s call follows allegations by the last Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmunin Jibrin, that the Speaker and three other principal officers attempted to approve N40 billion of N100 billion approved for constituency projects.
“Jibrin said he has also been victimised for refusing to support immunity for officers.
“Given the seriousness and gravity of the allegations against the House leadership, any investigation by the House would not be enough to meet the threshold of an effective, transparent and independent investigation.
“Nigerians will not have confidence in the House investigating itself.
“The Speaker must move swiftly to refer the allegations to EFCC and ICPC to allow for a swift, transparent, effective and independent investigation to contain the damage.
“There must be full accountability for any leader or member found to be responsible.
“These allegations raise questions about the need for a greater level of transparency and accountability in the National Assembly, such as telling Nigerians salaries and allowances of senators and members of the House.
“Public auditing of spending by the National Assembly and several reports on allegations of corruption that have been investigated by the National Assembly remain shrouded in secrecy and skewed to favour suspected corrupt officers,” Mumuni said.
Besides, he enjoined the House leadership to publicly commit that it would not promote constitutional amendments on immunity for its principal officers.
According to him, no public interest would be served if it sought to grant its principal officers immunity not contemplated by framers of the 1999 Constitution.
“It is important the National Assembly conducts itself in the knowledge that its role is a public one.
“Appearances of propriety can be as important as actual conflicts of interest in establishing what is acceptable behaviour,” he emphasised.
Mumuni urged Dogara to propose a bill on members’ integrity, saying this will restore public confidence in the National Assembly, check corruption and protect the leadership from criticism.


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