The House of Representatives’ Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, on Saturday frowned at the involvement of the State Security Service, SSS, in the budget padding crisis currently rocking the House.
He, however, said the police and the two anti-graft bodies – the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) – were more appropriate to wade into the scandal.
The recently removed Chairman of the House Appropriation Committee, Abdulmumin Jibrin, had last week alleged that the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, who he accused, alongside some other principal officers of padding the 2016 budget to the tune of N40billion, stormed the secretariat of the committee and removed computers and some other materials for the purpose of stalling investigation.
It was learnt that based on the allegation, the SSS on Saturday sealed off the office, located in Room 16, White House, at the National Assembly Complex.
But Mr. Ogor said his colleague was wrong to involve the SSS, vowing to do everything in his powers to clear his name.
Aside Dogara, the other principal officers mentioned by Jibrin as having padded the 2016 budget include Deputy Speaker Yussuf Lassun; Majority Whip Alhassan Doguwa; and Mr. Ogor.
Reacting to the intervention of the SSS, the minority leader said “The right authority to investigate this matter is the Nigeria Police and not the State Security Service”, adding “But because my name is involved, I would go to any extent to clear my name”.
“The internal security of the nation is the function of the SSS. This is clearly the work of the Nigeria Police. EFCC can also investigate the matter”, he stated.
Mr. Ogor also refuted Mr. Jibrin’s allegation that he (Ogor) was living above his means, saying “it is very insulting for anybody to tell me I’m living above my means because I live in Apo Legislative Quarters for 14 years”.
“Is it because I’m not living in Maitama or Asokoro?” Mr. Ogor queried.
He also urged the public to dismiss the former Appropriation Committee chair’s allegation that he colluded with Mr. Dogara and others to manipulate line items in the budget in order to fraudulently award public funds to themselves.
He said Nigerians should ask Mr. Jibrin why he presided over a “mutilated budget” as chairman of Appropriation Committee.
“The president said ‘I won’t sign until I see the details’. So, the question you’re supposed to ask yourself is, why did the president refuse to sign the budget? Because the budget was mutilated”, he said.
“When the president returned the budget back the budget was now referred to the National Assembly. The National Assembly set up an ad hoc committee to now restore the budget from that mutilated nature”, the minority leader added.
Mr. Ogor said he had no influence over budget decisions in the House.
“Do I have access to appropriation? For Christ sake, let all of us grow up”, Mr. Ogor said. “Somebody is busy lying there and everybody has accepted”.