By Emman Ovuakporie & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA — MEMBERS of the House of Representatives Committee on Police Affairs were, yesterday, divided over a N6 billion Special Intervention Fund in the 2016 budget for the Ministry of Interior.
The Minister of Interior, General Abdulrahman Dambazzau (retd) had told the lawmakers that the intervention fund would be domiciled in his ministry for the Police and other paramilitary agencies to draw when they required funds to restore civil authority in the North-East.
Reacting, Jonathan Gbewfi (Nasarawa PDP), said the interventions for the police to address the infrastructure deficit in North-East could be addressed in the Police budget.
Gabriel Onyenwife (Anambra APGA) agreed, saying the plan would create unnecessary bureaucratic bottlenecks before the funds could be accessed.
In a similar manner, Prestige Ossy (Abia PDP) also argued against the fund, saying: “The police know their emergencies, their hotspots and infrastructure deficit. They should take care of what they need, appropriate the funds to them.”
Chairman of the Committee, Halliru Jika, also spoke in favour of the fund,explaining that it would assist infrastructure development and create a synergy between the Police and the ministry.
At this point, chairman of the committee, Jika, ruled that the matter would be decided in the executive session.
Mr. Bassey Ekpenyong, the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, made a passionate appeal for the approval of the fund which he likened to a rainy day fund.
Also at the budget defence, the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, warned that the N4.5 billion appropriated for the force, instead of the N18 billion estimate submitted to the Budget Office, could only last for a few months.
He also noted that N331 billion submitted for capital budget was the outcome of zero-based budgeting, lamenting that only N17 billion was allocated.