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BUDGET PADDING: How FG plans to deal with Dogara, others

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By Soni Daniel, Northern Regional Editor

ABUJA—With conflicting claims by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and his allies that the anti-corruption agencies lack powers to try them for padding the 2016 budget, it has emerged that the Federal Government has already settled on how to deal with any of them found wanted.

Dogara and Jibrin
Dogara and Jibrin

Vanguard learnt from competent sources close to the matter that the Federal Government has unleashed its agents to shop for credible evidence of criminal adulteration of the budget that would make it difficult for any of the key suspects   to escape prosecution.

It was reliably gathered that the recent move by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to painstakingly scrutinise major contracts so far awarded by the Dogara-led House, was to establish whether public funds have been illegally funnelled back to him and his allies as alleged by sacked House Appropriation Chairman, Abdulmumuni Jibrin.

Vanguard was told that while the EFCC probes the accounts of the House, the Amodu Ali-led Special Investigation Panel raised by the Police High Command, had gone far in crosschecking the claims made by Jibin against the Dogara faction with a view to recommending punishment against the culprits.

Under the plan obtained by Vanguard, the Federal Government is to promptly charge the major suspects to court as it did to the Senate President when he was accused of not properly declaring his assets.

“It is true they will give Dogara the Saraki treatment especially for telling the whole world that padding is legal within the Nigerian law and that nobody can try him for the offence,” a source familiar with the matter said.

According to the source, the government would not join issues with Dogara and any of the officers of the NASS over budget padding but would ‘unfailingly and promptly’ act on the outcome of the police report on the matter once it is ready.

“It is the court that will determine whether it is right for anyone to insert a project that was not contemplated by the Executive that has the right to propose budget and move the money to certain agency of government with a view to drawing it for personal gain.

The latest development came as Dogara tried to deny his earlier claim that padding was allowed by and that he could not be tried by any of the anti-corruption agencies.

“As an Officer in the Temple of Justice, Dogara not only owes unalloyed allegiance to the judiciary but also to the institutions of law enforcement,” Mr. Dogara said in a statement signed by his media aide, Turaki Hassan. “He (Dogara) indeed swore to an Oath of Allegiance to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

The Speaker had come under criticism for claiming to be above scrutiny over the padding scandal, forcing some groups to ask him to resign, a move he rejected outright. “Dogara should not be portrayed as insensitive or arrogant as this is contrary to his true nature of humility and humaneness that has endeared him to his colleagues and Nigerians,” the speaker said.

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