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Monday, 1 August 2016

Update On Budget Padding: SSS, Police Get Buhari’s Approval To Probe Dogara, Others

The police and Department of State Services have received the backing of President Buhari, to carry out full investigations into the secret N480bn budget padding in the House of Representatives.

The agencies had swung into action by scrutinising documents collected from Abdulmumin Jibrin, the former Chairman of the House of Reps Appropriation Committee, as part of the investigations into the budget padding saga.

A source in ABuja told us that the budget was also padded by Senate with Billion.

Investigations by Punch showed that Buhari, as part of his commitment to the anti-corruption war was favourably disposed to investigations into the allegations in spite of his closeness to the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara.

Jibrin, who visited DSS headquarters in Abuja on Friday, was said to have submitted written demand by four principal officers of the House during the vetting of the 2016 budget by National Assembly.

It was gathered that the lawmaker made copies of same documents available to the police detectives as investigation into the scam began last week.

Security agencies had started scrutinising the documents with a view to determining members of the House that would be quizzed.

It was gathered that the DSS, during the week, would start the investigation with the questioning of civil servants working in National Assembly Budget Office and that other affected principal officers would subsequently be invited.

Jibrin had in his petitions to the security agencies, accused Speaker Dogara, his deputy, Yusuf Lasun; the House Whip, Alhassan Doguwa, and the Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, of padding the budget.

It was gathered that security security officers were banking on using as evidence written demands by the principal officers to establish a criminal case against the House leadership.

Sources said Jibrin had submitted 'incontrovertible' evidence linking the four men to budget padding incident that embarrassed the Federal Government.

Among the documents, said to have been provided by the petitioner, was breakdown of the amount that was added to the budget which was alleged shared by Dogara and his cohorts.

In one of the demand notes, the speaker was to get N3bn; the deputy speaker, N2.55bn; House leader and chief whip, N1.8bn each; deputy leader and deputy chief whip, N1.5bn each; minority leader and minority whip, N1.4bn each; while the deputy minority leader and deputy minority whip would each get N1.3bn, totalling N17.5 bn.

Other evidence that may be used to establish a case against the house leadership include document on the N20bn projects allegedly inserted in the 2016 budget under the service wide vote.

It was also gathered that detectives were examining a document showing the 2,000 projects inserted into the budget by 10 standing committees chairmen which was approved by Dogara. The projects amounted to N284bn. The total amount of the budget padding was said to be N480bn.

The documented evidence in possession of the petitioner, according to Punch, would make it difficult for Dogara and others to escape prosecution for malfeasance unless a political solution was adopted.

Further findings indicated that Jibrin had received the full support of the President and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami in his quest to torpedo the house leadership.

It was learnt that Jibrin had met with Malami where he was assured of Federal Government’s support for his anti-corruption crusade in the National Assembly.

A top government officer, who confided in Punch, said, “Security agencies have received the backing of the President to probe the allegation. The President has said that there is no sacred cow in the fight against corruption. You know he is close to Dogara, but he will not stop the security agencies from investigating anybody.”