SERAP urges Dogara to petition EFCC, ICPC on budget padding allegation


The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has called on the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara to refer to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission for an independent investigation of the alleged N40 billion padding of this year’s budget currently rocking the House of Representatives.
SERAP’s call is coming on the heels of allegations by the immediate past Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, that Dogara and three other principal officers of the House victimised him for refusing to support immunity for presiding officers as well as the approval of N40 billion for principal officers out of N100 billion approved for members of the House for constituency project.
In a statement by the group’s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, SERAP, the group said that given the gravity of the allegations against the leadership of the House, any investigation by the House would not be enough, as this would not meet the threshold of an effective, transparent and independent investigation.
“Nigerians won’t have confidence in the House investigating itself in this case. So, referring the allegations to both the EFCC and the ICPC for a joint investigation would show that the House leadership is willing and able to enhance the transparency and accountability of its system and that of the National Assembly as a whole.
“These allegations also raise numerous questions about the need for greater level of transparency and accountability in the National Assembly, such as telling Nigerians the salaries and allowances of Senators and members of the House; public auditing of spendings by the National Assembly, and why several concluded reports on allegations of corruption that have been investigated by the National Assembly remain shrouded in secrecy and skewed to favour suspected corrupt officers,” the statement read.
SERAP also urged the leadership of the House to publicly commit that the House will not promote constitutional amendments on immunity for its principal officers.
It said, “No matter how it is framed, no public interest is served by the National Assembly seeking to grant its principal officers immunity that wasn’t contemplated by the framers of the 1999 Constitution.”
The group also urged Dogara to use the opportunity of addressing the allegations raised against the leadership of the House to propose a bill on members’ integrity, which SERAP believes will help to restore public confidence in the National Assembly, provide a check against corruption, and protect the Assembly leadership from claims and criticisms of self-interest.