PDP Lawmakers Keep Vigil At National Assembly Over Alleged Illegal Sitting

Lawmakers elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the House of Representatives says it is keeping Virgil in the National Assembly to prevent alleged secret and illegal sitting in the Senate Chambers by some senators,

The Deputy Minority Leader of the House of  Representatives, Mr.  Chukwuma  Onyema stated this on Wednesday while briefing the press.

He explained that members of the PDP took the decision to keep vigil on the National Assembly to avoid acts capable of truncating the Nation’s democracy by selected lawmakers.

Mr. Chukwuma Onyema called on all Nigerian Lovers of Democracy to keep Vigil with the PDP Caucus who have resolved not to leave the National Assembly pending when those who had completed plans to destabilize the Legislature drop the idea.

The PDP Caucus also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to restrain those working to cause problems for the Legislature in particular and the Nation in general.

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ADP Urges NASS To Probe Alleged NNPC’s Subsidy Payment

The Action Democratic Party (ADP) has appealed to the National Assembly  to wade into the subsidy controversy and probe it.

In a statement issued in Lagos on Saturday, the party’s spokesman, Prince Adelaja Adeoye, said that the discrepancies in the subsidy claim has further created tensions, controversies and doubts in the minds of Nigerians.
While he explain in details, he called on the Senate President Bukola Saraki to urgently set up a committee to look into the subsidy controversy.
According to ADP, the current fuel scarcity “has revealed monumental fraud in the NNPC, through its involvement in secret payment of subsidy.”
“This is of huge significance because, the Buhari’s government had told Nigerians that subsidy was removed in early 2016,” the party said.
The statement reads: “It could be recalled that in the wake of the present fuel scarcity, the APC government led by President Muhammadu Buhari, had blamed the problem on major oil marketers, whom it alleged were asking for an increase in the pump price of fuel. However, the oil marketers later countered the allegation, maintaining that their problem with the government, was far from the alleged demand for pump price increase; and went on to reveal that they were being owed huge sum by the FG in subsidy payment.
“The revelation, immediately prompted an outcry from Nigerians who demanded to known what subsidy, the marketers were talking about, taken into account that the Buhari’s government had told the nation, in early 2016 that fuel subsidy has been removed, a development, which lead to the increase in pump price from N87 to N145.
“In their explanation in May 2016, through VP Osinbajo, the FG explained that the fuel subsidy removal as follows;
“First, the real issue is not a removal of subsidy. At $40 a barrel there isn’t much of a subsidy to remove.” Explaining further, VP Osinbajo said;
“We realised that we were left with only one option. This was to allow independent marketers and any Nigerian entity to source their own foreign exchange and import fuel. We expect that foreign exchange will be sourced at an average of about N285 to the dollar, (current interbank rate). They would then be restricted to selling at a price between N135 and N145 per litre.
“What this meant was that Marketers were importing fuel and selling as dictated by the market forces, with little government regulation to avoid excessive pricing of the sales of fuel to the Nigerian masses.
“Also, Speaking with Nigerians in October 2016, in an interactive session in Berlin, Buhari said, “There are things that are happening, and if such had happened before there would have been major riot, like the removal of subsidy on fuel,” further confirming Osinbajo’s earlier claims.
“These are the reasons ADP said its in total disbelief to hear that there was still anything called subsidy, associated with fuel. Hence, in a swift reaction, and to cover this fraud or probably to silence Nigerians who kept demanding for an explanation of this sudden subsidy claim, the party noted that the VP Osinbajo told the nation that NNPC and not the federal government is responsible for the subsidy payment. In his words, “NNPC and not the Federal Government pays for the fuel subsidy that has emerged with the N171 landing cost as against the official retail price of N145.”
“ADP said this new claim has further angered Nigerians who couldn’t figure how NNPC became responsible for subsidy payment and not the FG. More so that as an agency of government, NNPC can only spend money within the budget. Meanwhile, there has not been any budget for subsidy for two year running.
“Now to avoid the probing questions of Nigerians, NNPC GMD, Baru, while  responding to questions at Aso Rock Villa, after the Friday prayers, said that Buhari authorized him to be paying subsidy for fuel.
“It is interesting to note that NNPC is a parastatal of the FG, which spends money as budgeted for in the annual national budget. For two year running, there has not been any budget for subsidy, because it has been removed from petroleum product; yet NNPC has been paying subsidy. The fraud here is, NNPC is paying subsidy the government said doesn’t exist anymore, and doing so outside the budget.
“The practice has been that every money collected by all FG agencies and parastatals are mandatorily paid into the TSA, from where approval is given for withdrawal, by same agencies in line with their budget. What this means is that NNPC has either not been paying into TSA or has been short paying. We must remember that just recently, a House committee discovered the sum of N50bn in NNPC secret account, outside the TSA. The NNPC GMD Baru, was quick to say, Buhari order him to put the N50bn into such secret account. This is besides the $25bn contract it awarded without due process, which he also claimed, Buhari authorised.
“ADP said it is calling on the Nigerian Senate to do the needful by investigating the NNPC’s subsidy fraud, to save Nigeria from the monumental fraud supervised by GMD Maikanti Baru and his team at NNPC happening in the open and to the knowledge of Buhari, the party concluded.”
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Economic Recession: Senate Invites Buhari To Address Joint Session Of NASS

The senate on Thursday invited President Muhammadu Buhari to brief a joint session of the national assembly on his plans for getting the economy out of recession.

The invitation is in concurrence with that of the House of Representatives which passed similar resolution on September 22, inviting the president to explain to the legislature his plans to deal with the economic economy.

When the question of whether to invite the president was put by the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, the senators answered in the affirmative.

The Senate however did not specify a date on which the President Commander in Chief is to brief the joint session.

The Senate also recommended the need for true federalism and amendment of section 162 of the constitution to review the sharing formula between the Federal Government and State governments.

 

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Buhari Sends 3-year Spending Plan To NASS, Plans N6.812tn Budget For 2017

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday sent the 2017-2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP), ahead of the 2017 budget, to the National Assembly.
A letter accompanying the document was read by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, at plenary.
The letter said that the document would provide the framework for the development of 2017 budget which the government estimated to be N6.812tn.
The proposed N6.812tn 2017 budget is about 13.3 per cent or N806bn above the N6.06tn budgeted for 2016.
It said that MTEF and FSP were designed against the backdrop of an adverse global economic environment.
In the letter, Mr. Buhari said, “the MTEF and FSP, which would provide the framework for the development of the 2017 budget, were designed against the backdrop of a generally adverse global economic environment.
“It is also to address fiscal challenges in the domestic economy.
“In this regard, the 2017-2019 MTEF and FSP articulates the Federal Government’s economic, social and developmental objectives as well as the strategies for achieving these defined objectives and priorities.
“I hereby forward the 2017-2019 MTEF and FSP to the House of Representatives and trust that it would be kindly considered and expeditiously approved so as to move the 2017 federal budget preparation process forward.”
He explained that he was complying with the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007, adding that his action meant that the details of the 2017 budget would soon be laid before the legislature.
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Powers, Limits, Extent Of Appropriation In Budget Matters By The NASS Vis-A-Vis The Role Of The President (Part 1)

By Mike Ozekhome

INTRODUCTION

We shall, this week, step down our running discourse on restructuring and take on a more urgent matter – budget padding. Budgets are regarded as “contractual agreements” between governments and the people they serve. According to Wikipedia, “a budget (from old French baguette, purse) is a financial plan and a list of all planned expenses and revenues. It is a plan for saving, borrowing and spending.”

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, (4th Edition) defines budget as “an itemized summary of estimated or intended expenditures for a given period along with proposals for financing them” Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines it more poignantly thus: “a statement of the financial position of an administration for a definite period of time based on estimates of expenditures during the period and proposals for financing them”.

From the foregoing, the operative words as regards budget are “plan” and “estimates”. This simply means that a budget is nothing but a mere plan, an estimate; a mere guesswork and probability, of how much may be required for projects.

The actual income or revenue may fall far short of what is expected, while the cost of the project may actually outstrip the expected revenue in the interim. Consequently, to determine whether the National Assembly has the Constitutional powers to pad, augment or increase the budget, it is apposite to examine the provisions of the Constitution itself.

Section 81 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 mandates the President to prepare and lay before each House of the NASS estimates of the revenue and expenditure of the Federation for the following years.

In a bill called the Appropriation Bill. Where this is insufficient, section 81(2) provides for supplementary Appropriation Bill. According to Business Dictionary, “estimate” means: “Approximation, prediction, or projection of a quantity based on experience and/or information available at the time, with the recognition that other pertinent facts are unclear or unknown.” It is crystal clear from the above provisions that the President shall first do his research on “estimate of the revenue and expenditure” for the year in question and present same before the NASS.

This means that the President is not in charge of the National purse; the NASS is. Indeed, the NASS in section 4 of the 1999 Constitution has the responsibility to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Nigeria, while the Executive headed by Mr. President exercises executive powers under section 5 thereof.

The Judiciary interprets. Furthermore, by virtue of Sections 59, 80, 81 of the Constitution, it is only the NASS that can appropriate funds to the estimates and plans presented by the Executive, or authorise funds to be spent from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The meaning of this is that the Executive epitomised by Mr. President can never spend money without the approval of the NASS. However, the Constitution itself, in furtherance of the doctrine of separation of powers, ably espoused by French Political theoretician, Baron de Moutesque in 1748, has made it clear, that the Appropriation Bill regarding the projected revenue and expenditure MUST originate from the Executive and not the Legislature.

Consequently, although the NASS has the last say as to whether or not funds should be allocated to a particular project, or whether such estimates are indeed, sufficient or not, it does not originate the bill. It must be conceded, however, that at the time appropriations are being made by the Legislature, the rough estimates may need adjustments or re-adjustments, where it is discovered that the initial estimates by the Executive regarding approval of funds is realistically inadequate.

Where for instance, the NASS has cause to believe that a particular estimate falls short of what is required in the budget, or that a particular head has been over-bloated by estimates, it may, suo motu, increase or decrease such amount as initially proposed by the President. It may even altogether cancel and refuse to allocate any fund to such if it believes that such project is a white elephant, or is not of priority.

Where any of the scenarios painted above occurs, the President is helpless about it. Even where the President believes that the NASS has hurt him by failing to provide funds for a particular project dear to his heart, he has no constitutional power to unilaterally draw funds from the Consolidated Revenue Fund to finance the said project without NASS approval.

Any spending by the President in the absence of due appropriations is ultra vires and constitutes a violent contravention of the Constitution for which the President may become classically liable to be impeached. This is because Section 143(11) of the 1999 Constitution envisages an impeachable offence as “a grave violation or breach of the provisions of this Constitution or a misconduct of such nature as amounts in the opinion of the National Assembly to gross misconduct.” The reason for the above position is simple.

The Appropriation Bill, when passed, becomes an Act of the NASS which the President must implement. Thus, it must pass through the furnace of Legislative heat. Even where the President decides to withhold his assent by vetoing the Bill, the NASS can again override his veto by exercising it’s counter-veto power under Sections 58 (5) and 59 (4) of the Constitution, which give the NASS the power to pass into law, a Bill previously vetoed by the President.

Section 80 of the Constitution establishes the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation and directs that all moneys raised by the Federation must be paid into it. It also forbids moneys being withdrawn from it except to meet expenditure duly approved by the NASS through an Appropriation or Supplementary Appropriation Act. For distributable money amongst the three types of government, Federal, State and Local Governments, section 162 of the Constitution again puts same at the door steps of the NASS.

NOW THIS

The concept of “appropriations” as developed through the centuries in England and as adopted by the colonies encompassed dual limitations on both amount and object. Legislative supremacy over public fund implies the right to specify how appropriated monies shall be spent, which takes on an added significance in a separation-of powers regime. This means that neither the legislature, the Executive, nor the judiciary should exercise the whole or part of another’s arm’s power.

The NASS is not a mere robotic, rubberstamping, but a vibrant, interrogative Legislature. Since the Legislature has the capacity to amend, or even wholly reject budget proposals of the Executive and substitute one of it’s own, it means that it is only the NASS that can actually make such appropriation. Any plan or estimates tabled by the Executive, but without such appropriation, will be tantamount to misappropriation in the eye of the law.

AND THIS BUDGET PADDING

“Padding” is defined as “something added unnecessarily or dishonestly”. It is interesting to hear about allegations of “budget padding” at the House of Representatives. Can there really be padding of a budget within the precincts or hallowed Chambers of the green or red Chambers, where such figures have been introduced, debated and agreed upon? I think not. Padding occurs at the Executive level where the budget is worked upon.

If it ever occurs at the legislative level, in the negative sense in which it is being bandied, then it must be shown that unauthorised external additions, subtractions and multiplications were smuggled into the budget during the journey of transmitting same to the president from the NASS, after a harmonized version had been duly passed at plenary and distilled into a Bill.

Otherwise, the real business of the Legislature on budgetary matters is nothing but “padding”. This is because the cumbersome process of rewriting, altering, amending, rejigging, adding to, subtracting from, replacing and multiplying figures, heads, sub-heads, projects, incomes and expenditures, on a budget already worked upon and presented to it by Mr. President, is nothing but padding. (To be continued…)

LAST LINE

Are the Legislators, Executives, Nigerians, et al, reading this piece and eagerly awaiting the concluding part of powers, limits, extent of appropriation in budget matters by the NASS vis-a-vis the role of the President on this Sunday Sermon on the Mount of the Nigerian Project by Chief Mike A. A. Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb?

• Follow me on twitter @ MikeozekhomeSAN

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Questions For Femi Falana And Similar Experts On The Alleged Budget Padding By Nass By Linus Okorie

Dear Mr Femi Falana, SAN,

I monitored your opinions on July 31, 2016 via Channels Television on the issue of alleged padding of the budget. Being one person I have admired over the years and have the greatest admiration for on point of law, public advocacy and rights protection, I wish to kindly seek the following clarifications to help me get a better handle on the matters in issue:

  1. Is the budget an act of the National Assembly or a product of Mr President’s desires? Specifically, whose constitutional responsibility is the Appropriation Act (not the Appropriation bill) with particular reference to and combined reading of sections 4, 59, 80 and 81 of the constitution?
  2. Can the estimates presented by Mr President under section 81(1) of the constitution become an appropriation act without the legislative inputs of the National Assembly with particular reference to section 59(2)(3) of the same constitution? Specifically, what in your opinion was the intention of the framers of the constitution in subjecting the budget to same lawmaking process of the National Assembly with specific clarification in section 59 of the constitution?
  3. Can an estimate proposed by Mr President and passed in exact amount by the NASS be deemed illegal and padding under any circumstance simply because the assembly broke the lump sum down into discrete projects for implementation? For instance, the zonal intervention fund or so called constituency projects?
  4. What exactly is illegal or immoral about the constituency projects fund(always proposed and executed by the executive the same way as other capital projects in each budget)? Do you truly believe that the annual constituency projects of N100billion (approx 5% of the 2016 capital appropriation) for the NASS is the greatest source of corruption or executory inefficiency in our budgets!
    Are you aware that it operates much in the same pattern as Porkbarrel projects in the USA and even in greater dimension in Kenya as the National Government Constituency Development Fund, where 2.5% of its federal government share of revenue is set aside for constituency constituency and its budgetary approval and implementation significantly controlled by the legislature?
  5. What exactly in the allegations by Hon Jibrin constitute a criminal act, padding or illegality given that they all relate to alleged proposed budgets for different parts of the country and for which no funds have been expended?
  6. What exactly would the DSS, Police, EFCC and ICPC be investigating given that all documentary exhibits presented by Hon Jibrin are either not part of the signed budget or are parts of the harmonized budget jointly undertaken and agreed to by a harmonization of the NASS and the executive; and ultimately assented to by the President?
  7. If any project in the budget asented to by Mr President is considered “a padding” and therefore criminal, can the President; whose document the signed budget is be exonerated from indictment and; if so, why? If not, what should be his sanction?
  8. Hon Jibrin who is alleging wrong doing against some members is the only member of the house whose signature is on the approved budget in his capacity as Appropriation Committee chairman; meaning that it is his product. Having willfully hidden information of alleged criminality and wrongdoing at his disposal from other members, the President and the public, and having gone ahead to authenticate the document as correct and error free; can he now after removal from office be a credible source of the allegations he’s making and warrant reliance? Should he not be under prosecution as a self confessed criminal?
  9. Is there any project among those allegedly “padded” by named members that is of exclusive personal benefit of the said member and that is designed to be implemented by the member of the Nass instead of the executive?
  10. Is there any evidence that indicts any member of the Nass or suggests that the funds allocated for the projects alleged by Hon Jibrin were released to the member or was to be so released?
  11. Assuming without conceding that those projects were paddings to the budget and the implementation still remains at the discretion of the executive, what exactly constitutes a criminal act now to be punished by any authority; even as none of the projects has been implemented and no public fund is missing thereby?
  12. Under what conditions can the President choose and pick what portions of a law assented to by him, another President or indeed any other extant law to comply or not to comply with? And would you blame the Nass if it decides to defend the constitution and/or sanction such breach of extant laws; including the appropriation act, if it occurs? Would you under any circumstance encourage the President or other executive actors to willfully refuse, fail or refrain from implementing an extant law without the pronouncement of the court as to the law’s unconstitutionality or illegality? Does the Appropriation Act assented to by Mr President fail on any score as an operative law of the nation? How would you then justify a call to investigate, indict or prosecute a member of the NASS for his lawmaking role?
  13. Are you not concerned, as a senior lawyer and rights activist, that this campaign is a violation of the constitutional rights of the legislature and a threat to democracy given that there’s is no judicatory foundation for the  push to criminalize the work of the NASS in its ordinary cause of lawmaking?
  14. Sections 58 and 59 of the constitution prescribe the lawmaking processes by the NASS with section 59 referring specifically to the appropriation and related bills. Do you agree that the only difference between the ydtwo sections is in the prescription of a specific time frame and mode of resolution of differences? Even at that, do you acknowledge that section 59 recognizes the possibility of differences between versions passed by both chambers? What in your opinion may constitute such differences?
  15. Would you be surprised if after this intervention, Hon Abdulmumin suddenly releases further evidence indicting me of “budget padding” as the thirteenth member of the House so indicted?

I shall be most grateful to hear from you. You must permit me also to share these thoughts  with the public using every media available to me. In so doing, I will hope that other experts will also contribute to enriching my knowledge of the issues at stake and further empower me to more effectively address the them as a participant.

Accept the assurances of my esteemed regards.

Rep. Linus Okorie,FCA represents Ohaozara/Onicha/Ivo federal constituency of Ebonyi state.

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APC Governors Meet Buhari, Agrees To Wade Into NASS Crisis

The All Progressives Congress (APC) governors yesterday expressed concern about the crisis in the National Assembly.

Speaking with State House correspondents at the end of the group’s meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Chairman of APC Governors Forum, Rochas Okorochas, said the governors decided to look into the crisis.

According to him, the nation cannot develop without a strong and vibrant National Assembly.

He said the state governors from the ruling party were concerned about the incessant happenings in the National Assembly and had resolved to look into the matter.

The two chambers of the National Assembly have continued to witness crisis since inception following the emergence of leaders, who were not the preferred candidates of the ruling party, the APC.

Crisis is currently brewing in the House of Representatives following an allegation by a former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, who accused the leadership of the House of padding the 2016 budget to the tune of N40bn.

Okorocha added, “We have come to reassure Mr. President that the APC governors are solidly behind him in his fight against corruption; his fight against insurgents and all his laudable projects.

“We are concerned about the incessant happenings in the National Assembly and we have taken it upon ourselves to look into the matter; that is the crisis in the National Assembly.

“We are going to look into the matter because we need a strong and vibrant National Assembly to make things move fast in the country.”

Okorocha defended the recent decision of the Nigeria Governors Forum for six state governors to travel to Germany for what they called “vocational training.”

“There is nothing like jamboree trip. We are going to Germany because we cannot do everything here without exchanging ideas. Everything you do in your home and your business, you share ideas.

“So, we want to see how they have done what they have done to succeed. It is the aspiration of Nigeria to be like other countries of the world,” he said.

When asked if the trip would be funded by states, some of who owed workers’ salaries, Okorocha responded, “So, who will fund it, you!?”

Despite the continued hardship in the states, the governor stated that a lot of improvement had been recorded in some states.

He noted that what the states were getting from the Federation Account was close to what they were collecting when crude oil was selling above $100 per barrel.

Other governors, who attended the meeting, included those of Kaduna, Kwara, Zamfara, Benue, Kano, Sokoto, Plateau, Niger, Ogun, Borno, Osun, Edo, Kogi, Adamawa, Nasarawa and Kebbi.

The meeting was also attended by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal; and the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, among others

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Ibrahim Magu: Self-Acclaimed Anti-Corruption Czar Mounts Pressure on NASS For Confirmation

By Adenike Lucas
Another dimension of the acting chair of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s impunity and lopsided fight against internal corruption is extensively revealed in this write up by Adenike Lucas.
Over the past few months, an investigation by Adenike Lucas has unearthed worrying levels of corruption and plans by Mr Ibrahim Mustafa Magu of the EFCC to subvert the rules of the EFCC.
Mr Magu who spearheaded the suspension of some dedicated staff of the anti-graft agency that exposed the criminalities perpetuated by his predecessor, Mr Ibrahim Lamorde is silently quelling charges levied against him by the state’s security service.
Questions are now being asked about the integrity of the Borno born acting chair, following an indicting report against him by the Department of State Security (DSS). Concerns have also increased over his links to the arrested Air Commodore, Umar Muhammed (rtd).
Despite his pretenses, an inside source at the EFCC previously exposed the close ties between the Air Force Commander and Mr Magu.
In a series of conversation held with Adenike Lucas, the EFCC whistleblower accused the National Security Adviser Babagana Monguno, known to be Mr Magu’s Godfather of embezzling troop allowance. Mr Magu is said to be preventing several cases like this from being investigated.
Staffs have had to dam all consequence in their decision to speak out over the intimidation and abusive methods been deplored by Mr Magu in his planned attempt of evading justice.
In one case of abuse of power, Mr Magu accused a female regular staff of hobnobbing with an ex-governor of a North Central State.
Onlookers at the Abuja office said Mr Magu, called: “her to his office and the next thing was to start accusing her of fraternizing with the said former Governor.
Apparently, this threat would never have been carried out on a seconded woman police officer talk of a police man, but, “because of the internal injustice which Mr Magu had aligned with the path of Mr Lamorde, here is what the regular staff gets.”
Over the past year, so many regular staffs have been dismissed as a result of injustice. Many have gone to the National Industrial Court and got judgement for reinstatement. Only for the Police led EFCC to appeal such judgements. Many are still at the NIC for various wrongful dismissals of appointments. Most of which Mr Magu of EFCC is privy to, and partook in the impunity wholly.
Not only is Mr Magu suppressing vocal staff who speak against his corrupt leadership. He has also decided to punish allies of this regular staff for no reason.
Two sets of Regular Cadets of the EFCC had been due for promotion since two years ago, but Mr Magu has refused to get them moved to the next rank, neither did he allow for interview to be conducted.
Apparently, Mr Magu of EFCC has wade off any issue regarding the promotion of the regular staff of EFCC, without any rationale.
How on earth can a sincere, just, incorruptible and credible acting chair think in such a myopic manner? As at today, Mr Magu of EFCC has stagnated the promotion of the core staff of EFCC, while the seconded policemen keep receiving their due promotion from their mother organisation, the Nigeria Police, and making them have edge in terms of placement better than the bona fide staff of the anti-graft agency.
This was the same Magu of EFCC, who was returned to police in 2008 by a senior EFCC chair Mrs. Farida Waziri. Reasons being that he was alleged of hiding case files on investigated Ex-Governors, and other official documents. At that time, he was the Head of the Section, Economic Governance, in charge of Politically Exposed Persons cases.
Also, Magu was alleged to be divulging official information to Sahara Reporters and the pioneer Chair of the EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu whilst in Mrs Waziri’s regime. That was why, after she removed him from the agency, Sahara Reporters led an onslaught against Mrs. Waziri, till ex-President Goodluck Jonathan removed her.
That is why the same Sahara Reporters is carrying out ‘Image laundering’ on his behalf, by trying to rubbish Director General DSS Lawal Daura, Chief of Staff Mallam Abba Kyari, Gen. Minister of Interior Abdul Rahman Dambazau, Mamman Daura, COAS Gen. Tukur Buratai and others whom they see as exposing Mr Magu’s pseudo war against corruption.
In a nutshell, instead of proper leadership in the EFCC that will foster harmonious coexistence among various segments of staff, Mr Magu is encouraging ’empire building’ in the anti-graft agency by some policemen against the regular staff.
Among all other impunities laid at Mr Magu’s door, is his failure to investigate his ally such as Mr Lamorde, DCP Mohammed Wakili, CSP. Iliyasu Kwarbai, CSP. Ibrahim Yidi, ASP. Bashir Mua’azu, SP. Ishaku Sharu who were in charge of Arms Deal Investigation.
Mr Magu claims to be fighting corruption, if this is true, why is there no plan to investigate Mr Lamorde?
Can Mr Magu look anyone in the face as he gives a reply to that question? Of course he cannot. Purposely, because they are all policemen, as you can see from their ranks. However, let a regular staff exchange pleasantry with an accused; I bet Magu may order that regular staff to be slaughtered. Is that not injustice and corruption, said the source.
A few staffs have been suspended since November for speaking about corruption which led to the dismissal of the former chairman, Mr Lamorde. For this act, they were sacked by Mr Magu.
Senior staff at the Headquarters that had advised and told him it was wrong was either removed or transfers from their job.
This staff who feel they are been witch hunted say: “efforts made by most top staff to call Mr Magu’s attention to this fact have fallen on deaf ears.”
For instance, a director in the Legal Department who gave a legal advice to Mr Magu to back out of humiliating the whistleblowers was removed from that department. Another scenario is a senior female staff who cautioned Mr Magu on the injustice against the whistleblowers, by suspending and denying them salaries for over six months. She was transferred to a State office of the agency to work under a junior seconded policeman.
A second source shed more light on the level of fraud in the anti-corruption agency being headed by Mr Magu and why certain high profile cases have stalled.
“So many impunity has been going on since the appointment of Mr Magu as acting chair of EFCC, yet no one is telling the President the truth about internal illegalities of Magu in EFCC,” the informant intoned.
He continued: “But today, Mr Magu will tell the world and Nigerians that he is flushing out the bad eggs from the anti-graft agency. What he meant, most Nigerians do not know.”
This second EFCC source based in Lagos said: “corrupt police officers who are well known to have benefited from corrupt practices, in cases like subsidy investigations, pension investigations, and so many other politically exposed persons cases, were let off the hook by Magu when he started as acting chair of the anti-graft agency.
“Humiliating the regular staff of the agency, and freeing his policemen colleagues, who have made billions while on secondment to EFCC,” is also in the increase, he added.
“Yet the regular staff of the agency are being messed up every day, and made to look like the dirty officers polluting the EFCC. This is not true, though there are a few bad staff of the agency. About 90% of the seconded policeman to EFCC, are more engulfed in internal corrupt practices, which Magu himself is fully aware, but had left them to go and enjoy their ‘God-given illicit wealth.’
“Anytime Mr Magu talks about corruption fighting back, it sounds ridiculous. To think that he is just trying to hoodwink gullible Nigerians who are already deceived by his perceived fight against corruption, and the President whom he feels he has succeeded in cajoling.”
Today, it must be averred to the public that Mr Magu is a desperate fraud. In his desperation, he authorised the anti-corruption award to Deputy Ike Ekweremadu, hoping that it would make factions of the NASS members happy with him but it backfired.
In a previous conversation, a fearless informant called for the previous EFCC chair, Mr Lamorde to be investigated, if there is actual sincerity in Mr Magu’s corruption fight.
“Why would Mr Magu who has always said he will fight corruption till he dies not have investigated some of those seconded policemen, before sending them back to the police,” the source asked.
It should be noted that Mr Magu was never screened by the DSS and with an impending DSS report which will indict Mr Magu, the President cannot afford to have such person leading a vital institution like the EFCC.
I urge our President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR to immediately withdraw the confirmation request for Mr Magu which was sent by his Vice, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
In my view, an armed robber cannot be tasked with the job of catching thieves.
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Immunity For NASS Members: We Smell A Rat – MURIC

There was pandemonium in the House of Representatives yesterday when members debated a bill seeking to amend Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution which confers immunity on the executive arm of the Nigerian government. The sponsor of the bill is proposing immunity for leaders and principal officers of the House.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) rejects this attempt to shield lawmakers from the law made by them. It is despicable, outrageous and preposterous. Simply put, it is legislative rascality. This legislature will go down in history as the most controversial, most self-centered and most unproductive.

Coming at a time when the leadership of the National Assembly (NASS) is facing court trial over criminal charges, the timing of the bill is not only suspect, it is also infantile and provocative. The proposed bill is self-serving and politically motivated. Its authors seek to gain from the bend what they could not get from the straight. This bill belongs to the dustbin of history.

The NASS is taking Nigerians for a ride. We will not allow that to happen. The proposed bill is a reactionary measure. It is designed to take Nigeria back to the Stone Age. Bothered by the concentration of too much power being wielded by presidents, democracies around the world are seeking to remove immunity even from the executive.

The supreme court of Guatemala successfully stripped its president of immunity in September 2015. How can Nigerian legislators turn themselves into tin gods at a time like this? It had better not be. Whoever wants to enjoy the immunity clause should go to his state and contest for governorship.

We are aware that in the year 2013 a committee of the same House recommended the expunging of the immunity clause for the president and his vice in order to check executive lawlessness. What happened between then and now? How can the present House confer immunity on those who hitherto did not enjoy it? We smell a rat.

It is a calculated assault on two of the basic principles of democracy, namely, probity and accountability. The masses are being skinned alive. First, we cannot hold the executive arm of government accountable until after the end of its tenure and now, the legislature wants to dig in deep. It is not only daylight robbery but also an attempt to subject the citizenry to the tyranny of Draconian legislation. Those who make the law must submit themselves to the same law. Only thus can they have a taste of the pudding.

The refusal of the Speaker of the House to subject the bill to a voice vote is undemocratic and most condemnable. Honourable Dogara wants to turn Nigeria into a huge Animal Farm where all animals are equal but some are more equal than others.

The conduct of some of the members of Senate is equally disgraceful. The alleged use of vulgar language by Senator Dino Melaye and his alleged threat to beat up a female colleague in the House is most unbecoming of the status of a parliamentarian and a distinguished senator for that matter. His belligerence constitutes a threat to the continued involvement of Nigerian women in politics.

MURIC calls on female politicians and feminists across the country to speak up on this unprovoked assault on womanhood. The Senate President must call Melaye to order. In addition, female members in the NASS must insist on getting an apology from Melaye.

To sum up, we charge the House of Representatives to throw out the self-serving and politically motivated bill. We urge Nigerian lawmakers to avoid widening the disconnect between them and the electorate, desist from unnecessary confrontation with the executive and adhere to international best practices in parliamentary matters.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Director,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

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EFCC Probes N60bn ‘Budget Padding’ Vote For Senators, Reps… Ask NASS To Explain Why Omisore Got N2.5bn

Detectives have recovered a sensitive document from Otunba Iyiola Omisore’s Abuja home.

The document shows how N60billion was voted for extraneous overhead expenses for some senators and members of the House of Representatives in the Sixth Assembly, according to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission( EFCC) sources.

Omisore, former deputy governor of Osun State, was the chairman of the Senate Appropriation Committee between 2007 and 2011.

The anti- graft agency is probing  the document to identify the senators and members of the House of Representatives who got the largesse.

A source, who spoke in confidence, said when detectives went to search the Abuja home of the ex-deputy governor, they stumbled on the “budget padding” document in his bedroom.

The source said a sober Omisore joined issues with the EFCC operatives, asking why they were interested in the document.

The source said: “In the course of searching Omisore’s residence at 1, Kainji Crescent in Maitama, Abuja, we stumbled on a document on budget padding worth about N60billion for some Senators and House of Representatives.

“Immediately we picked the document, Omisore was a bit concerned. He asked our operatives to limit their investigation to only the N1.310billion from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) but we insisted that we are interested in the document.

“It contained a list of budget padding of about N60billion and how it was spread for some Senators and members of the House of Representatives from 2007 and 2011.

“A crack team is already looking into the details of the padding of the budget and the affected Senators and Representatives.

“Certainly, as a former chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, we expect him to speak on the document.

“The fact that Omisore proved difficult before we arrested him has actually paid off for EFCC. His stubbornness has assisted in opening new investigation frontiers. If he had honoured our invitation as a gentleman, we might not have been able to get these new areas of investigation.”

To get to the root of the matter,  the EFCC has written to the management of the National Assembly to explain why it paid N2.5billion to Omisore.

The letter followed the discovery of the strange remittance in Omisore’s account by the management when he was a serving senator.

But the management, in a response to the EFCC signed by a top official, said Omisore was not awarded any contract or engaged for any service to have warranted such a payment.

In a follow-up letter, the anti-graft agency mandated the management to be more “forthcoming on what the N2.5billion was meant for to have earned remittance into the account of the ex-deputy governor”.

The NASS bureaucracy has up till the end of this week to clarify the “purpose of such a huge payment” to an individual.

There were indications that the commission may quiz two former National Assembly and Senate Clarks as well as and some management members of staff in the Finance Department, including directors.

According to EFCC findings, the strange payment of N2.5billion was discovered during the screening of Omisore’s transactions in the course of investigating a N1.310billion  illegally allocated to Omisore and three companies by the ONSA.

The source added: “We were able to detect that the sum in question was transferred from the Skye Bank account of the National Assembly to Omisore’s account.

“We got a letter from the management that Omisore did not at any time execute any contract for the National Assembly or offer any service to be able to earn such a payment.

“We have written another letter to the management to explain why the money was paid to Omisore. We want those in the relevant desk behind the payment to guide the EFCC accordingly.

“We are expecting a detailed response from the management of the National Assembly, including vouchers for the payment and authorisation. Once we get their response, we will invite those connected with it.

The source explained: “This was why we secured a court warrant to detain Omisore to get to the roots of this latest payment.”

After about three months of hide and seek, the EFCC arrested Omisore in Abuja for alleged N1.310billion ONSA slush funds traced to him  and three companies.

According to a report by the EFCC, the funds were  remitted as follows: Fimex Gilt Limited (N160m)-8/8/2014in UBA; Metropolitan Consortium (N350m)—9/7/14 in First Bank; Sawanara (N300m)—1/8/14 in First Bank and Metropolitan Consortium (N350m)-1/8/14 in First Bank.

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I Can Fall Sick Like Anyone Else – Buhari… Says NASS Already Informed Of His Travel

President Muhammadu Buhari, Monday, said like every human, he can fall ill.

The President made the admittance at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport, Abuja enroute London, United Kingdom for medical attention on his ear.

While departing Nigeria, the President who spoke to Journalists said he had also communicated the National Assembly about his trip.

He said: “I have already told Nigerians that I am going for 10 days to get my ear checked. The National Assembly knows, they have been formally informed.

On how to calm the tension of a President falling sick the President answered “is there anybody that doesn’t fall sick?”

But on another breath, the president special adviser on media and publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina who accompanied the president to the airport denied that the president was not sick. He said that the president was taking 10 days off and would see his doctors abroad.

“The buzz going round town is that the President is “ill”, but “ill” will be a misnomer. It should not be the right word to use. “The President is going for a 10 day rest and during that period he will see specialists who will look at his ear because he has been treating that ear locally for sometime.

“Nigerian physicians have looked at it and now they have said you are going to UK, now that you will be there let specialists look at the ear. They have treated it locally so it is not a question of whether the President is ill. If he is ill, it presupposes that there are certain things that he cannot do.

“Till the very last minute that he is traveling, the President performed the duties and functions of his office as the President.

“So illness is not the issue but as a human being, yes, he can rest. He has been President for one full year. You know that in February, he took 5 days leave. He is taking another 10 days now that means 15 days leave in one year.

“You and I take more than that. So, it is natural that the President as a human being is taking 10 days rest but he is not ill.

“We need to underscore that. Rather than going into a frenzy, I will urged Nigerians to just show goodwill and patriotism. They should pray for him and wish him well. Things about health, life and death are in the hands of God. But I believe that all is well with out President and God will take care of him and take care of the country”, Adesina said.

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NASS Slashes Own Padding Of The 2016 Budget From N500b to N75bn

Following the belated agreement by the lawmakers to remove most of the unbudgeted items they introduced into the fiscal document for pecuniary gains, indications that a reworked copy of the 2016 budget will be presented to the President for assent has emerged.

The President and the leadership of the National Assembly had agreed to set up the committees after a brief meeting on Wednesday night last week in Abuja to reconcile the ‘‘grey areas’’ in the N6.06tn budget.

As a result of the development, the National Assembly has slashed its own padding of the budget from N500b to N75b.

Reliable sources close to the NASS said that the lawmakers had realised that it was wrong for them to have usurped the functions of the Executive by introducing items not contemplated by the Presidency into the budget and illegally transferring capital votes to such items.

Investigations indicated that among the grey areas, which would now be deleted from the budget, was the N40bn the lawmakers added to the original vote for zonal intervention projects in the budget.

The President initially proposed N60bn for the projects, but the lawmakers increased it to N100bn.

In addition, “all distortions” to the budget such as the 40 per cent reduction in some sub-heads, and the inclusion of projects “worth billions of naira” by some committee chairmen will be readjusted.

According to a senior legislative aide,

“The committee has been quite busy; the members worked all night Thursday and Friday last week.

“What is happening now is that the members are putting finishing touches to the budget before forwarding a clean copy to Mr. President.

“It will certainly be this week; counting Tuesday, Wednesday, the signed budget should be ready.”

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