*Speaker, N100m, Dep Speaker, N80m, each Rep N42m
By Jide Ajani, Deputy Editor and Ikechukwu Nnochiri
Fresh facts which emerged at the weekend concerning the N10billion loan scandal in the House of Reresentatives that just ended its tenure suggest that the sourcing which resulted in the present situation was the product of an executive session where members insisted on enhancing their allowances.
And whereas former Speaker Dimeji Bankole is the one facing the fire, Sunday Vanguard is now in possession of documents which show that the genesis of the hoopla was an executive session of the House of Representatives on Thursday March 25, 2010, where Hon. Aminu Tambuwal briefed the House regarding the “restiveness of members and the possible crisis that may erupt in the House because of the issue of enhanced allowances that members have been clamoring for”.
The two major resolutions of that executive session was the agreement to pass the 2010 budget and the briefing by Tambuwal who was said to have made a very passionate plea for the upward review “so that members would be happier”. It was based on that briefing that the House set up a 37-member committee, with members drawn from each state of the federation and the FCT.
The following week, Tuesday, March 30, 2010, another executive session held and the committee reported back, whereupon it was agreed that each member should, from January 1, 2010, be paid N42 million quarterly as running cost as against the former running cost of N22 million.
Also, based on the plethora of correspondences between the Deputy Director of Finance and Administration, DDFA, National Assembly Management, Speaker Bankole and the Clerk of the House, Sani Omolori, Sunday Vanguard discovered that the funds in question were expended on the agreed enhanced allowances for members.
The new running cost that was approved by the executive session of March 30, 2010, is as follows:
Deputy Speaker, N80m
House Leader, N60m
Dep. House Leader, N57.5m
Chief Whip, N55m
Dep. Chief Whip, N54.5m
Minority Leader, N54.5m
Minority Whip, N50m
Dep. Minority Leader, N50m
Dep. Minority Whip, N50m
In fact, members, at that session, also decided that money should be earmarked for the payment of outstanding allowances for members from 1999 – 2007, and that money should also be set aside for selected services as follows:
The executive session of that day was presided over by Deputy Speaker Nafada. It was, nonetheless, a decision of the whole House, which meant the speaker was also included.
Interestingly, however, to meet the payment for the new running cost for members, the leadership of the House resorted to borrowing money. N2.5billion was borrowed from the management of the National Assembly.
Therefore, on September 29, 2010, in a memo from the DDFA, J M Okorodudu, to Bankole, through the Clerk of the National Assembly, CNA, and through the Director of Finance and Administration, DFA, he complained that the provision of N2.5billion to the House, the provision of which was not in “the contemplation of the 2010 budget”, had led to a situation whereby “funds were no longer sufficiently available to accommodate the budgeted running expenses… for the entire National Assembly, as the money lent to the House led to a shortfall in the budgetary provisions”. His memo requested that the speaker and the House pay up.
But the House did not stop there. It also secured another loan from the Senate Committee on Appropriation to the tune of N1.5billlion.
Omolori, the clerk of the House, wrote to Bankole on November 4, 2010, painting a very embarrassing picture of the possible opprobrium from the negative impact of the House not being able to meet its obligations to members and carry out other activities.
The memo, titled, “Re: Outstanding Liabilities of The House of Representatives”, and which was mutilated with seven signatures, impressed it on the speaker that he should “consider and approve that we source this money from the bank accordingly”.
Therefore, in another memo, dated December 1, 2010, from Omolori to the CNA, he enthused that “the essence of this memo is to inform you that the House has secured the facility to enable us settle all our outstanding liabilities”.
Omolori again, on January 27, 2011, reminded Bankole that the N2.5biilion, N1.5billion and the N6billion sourced from other areas should be included in the 2011 budget.
According to the clerk of the House, the speaker “should please ensure that the amount (N10billion) is reflected and adequate provisions made for their payment in the 2011 budget”.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is expecting Bankole at its office tomorrow on the grounds of the controversial N10 billion loan.
However, a source close to the developments surrounding the issue told Sunday Vanguard that many more individuals would be invited for interrogation as the investigations continue.
One of them, it has been discovered, is Tambuwal, who was said to have impressed it on the leadership of the House that there was need for an upward review of the running costs for members, which eventually led to the institution of the 37-member committee which approved the new rates.
Meanwhile, the issue took a twist at the weekend as Tambuwal and another returning lawmaker, Emeka Ihedioha, headed to a Federal High Court in Abuja, praying it to protect them from being arrested by the EFCC.
The duo, through a fundamental human rights enforcement application they filed before the High Court, alleged subterranean moves by some persons to implicate them in the loan saga with a view to stopping them from vying for the position of speaker and deputy speaker of the in the incoming legislature.
They alleged that the pressure being mounted on Bankole by the anti-graft agency, was owing to his refusal to implicate them in the alleged loan scam, adding that they had continued to receive threats and intimidation owing to their resolve to go ahead and contest for the said positions.
The applicants told the court that their constitutional rights to personal liberty were in imminent danger of being violated by the defendants since the said election is billed for tomorrow which is a day the former speaker is scheduled for grilling by operatives of the EFCC who are investigating the matter.
They contended that the unless the anti-graft body is stopped by the court, they may be arrested and detained until after the election.
Also joined as co-defendants in the suit are the Inspector-General of Police, Attorney-General of the Federation and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC.
In a 23-paragraph affidavit deposed to by Tambuwal, he averred that they were hitherto asked to relinquish their ambition to head the legislative house on the grounds of geo-political considerations.
He maintained that their colleagues had assured him and Ihedioha that they would nominate them for the posts, saying that unless they are physically present at the House tomorrow, it would be difficult to accept nominations as required by the Standing Orders of the House.
Tambuwal further claimed that the defendants are working towards arresting them so as to prevent them from being able to accept their nominations for the offices of the speaker and that of the deputy speaker of the House.
Consequently, they have prayed the court for an order directing the defendants and their agents to stay all actions in respect of the matter and maintain the status quo, pending the determination of the originating motion on notice.