Probe begins as police get three versions of budget

The police yesterday retrieved three versions of the budget from ousted House of Representatives Appropriations Committee chairman Abdulmumin Jibrin as probe of his allegation of padding began.

The Special Investigation Panel (SIP) has started sieving the documents to isolate the padded areas, it was learnt.

Jibrin petitioned the police, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other anti-graft agencies, alleging the padding of Budget 2016 by Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Deputy Speaker Yusuff Lasun, Chief Whip Alhassan Ado Doguwa, Minority Leader Leo Ogor and nine others.

He claimed that they inserted about 2000 projects worth N284 billion into the budget.

Jibrin had a two-hour session with the Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) Amodu Ali-led SIP.

Jibrin, who submitted more documents on the matter to the investigators, may appear before the panel again either today or tomorrow.

Based on documents at its disposal, the panel may interact with other members of the appropriations committee, sources said.

A source said: “The search for padded areas by the panel has started. As at Monday (yesterday), the panel was in receipt of three versions of the 2016 Budget.

“These versions are the original copy laid before the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari, the version  passed by the National Assembly but rejected by the President due to omission of some key projects, such as the N60billion Calabar-Lagos rail project; and the harmonised copy.

“With the retrieval of these budget versions, detectives have started identifying padded areas by the House members.

“After locating these padded areas, the SIP will be able to determine the focus of interrogation and the list of those to be questioned alongside the 13 already implicated by Jibrin.”

Responding to a question, the source added: “The SIP may interact with all members of the House Committee on Appropriations and some chairmen of committees.

“We are also monitoring every claim by members in the media to guide our investigation.”

For the session with the SIP yesterday, Jibrin arrived at about noon and left around 2pm.

“Jibrin brought additional documents to support his allegations. What he did was to support every allegation with proof and the sources where he got all the documents. He is trying to prove his case that the padding was criminal.

“We have requested him for additional facts. So, Jibrin could be with us tomorrow (today) or Wednesday. We have told him additional things to bring as part of our preliminary investigation.

“We will invite Dogara and the others after we are done with Jibrin, a source said

he added: “As the investigation progresses, we will inform the public. This is an investigation that will stand the test of time.

“ The nation should at the end of the day put an end to the culture of padding.  We will be fair to all who will appear before the SIP.”

Last Friday during a visit to the Presidential Villa, Dogara said budget padding was not an offence.

He said as a lawyer who has been in the legislature for years, he had never heard of where lawmakers were accused of padding the budget.

His position drew the ire of many on social media who criticised him for his “insensitivity in these hard times”.

Jibrin also took  him to the cleaners, arguing that “budget padding is an offence”.

Thenation

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