Budget Padding Scandal: Falana, Other Senior Lawyers Call For Probe, Prosecution Of Culprits

Abdulmumin Jibrin-Yakubu DogaraA cross-section of senior lawyers in the country have called for a thorough probe into the allegations of budget padding leveled against some principal officers of the House of Representatives.

The member representing Bebeji/Kiru Federal Constituency in the House, Abdulmumin Jibrin, in an expose following his removal as Chairman, Committee on Appropriation on Wednesday, accused the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, of attempting to pad the controversial 2016 budget with N30 billion.

He also called on the Speaker as well as his deputy, Yusuf Sulaimon Lasun, Chief Whip Alhassan Doguwa and Minority Leader Leo Ogor, to resign.

Mr. Jibrin, who ran into troubled waters after he was accused of single-handedly allocating N4.3 billion to Constituency in the budget, however, accused the principal officers of getting back at him for refusing “to cover up their unilateral decision to allocate to themselves N40 billion out of the N100 billion allocated to the entire National Assembly”.

Reacting to the can of worms opened by the lawmaker, the lawyers called for a probe and prosecution of anyone found guilty, no matter their position.

Leading the call was a rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana, who said the allegations, if found to be true, violated the 1999 Constitution and the Public Procurement Act.

“Very clearly, these allegations must be investigated and the country must get to the root. Whoever is involved must be investigated and prosecuted. It is a very serious crime”, Falana said.

Adding his voice to the demands for sanction against the culprits, Abeny Mohammed, also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), called for the punishment of all those involved in the scandal.

“My view is that not only the former chairman of the Committee on Appropriation but also all those involved should be exposed and punished.

“It is only in Nigeria that lawmakers appropriate money for themselves for the so-called constituency projects, which are never executed. It is a corrupt practice which must be condemned and stopped”, he said.

Another SAN, Yusuf Ali, said sufficient rules and guidelines should be introduced to regulate issues of misconduct among members of states and federal assemblies.

“Outside politics, I think rules should be put in place to determine what amounts to legislative misconduct”, he said.