N480bn Budget Fraud: Speaker Dogara, Alleged Co-Conspirators Face Jail-Term Prospect

House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara and ex-Chairman of the House of Representatives’ Appropriation Committee, Abdulmumin Jibrin

Unless President Muhammadu Buhari backpedals, the signs are that Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and other principal officers implicated in the scandalous N480billion budget fraud are now faced with being dragged down from grace to grass, with imprisonment as a likely outcome.

The Department of State Services (DSS) has been given the green-light by the president to launch a full scale investigation into the budget padding scam in the House of Representatives, Punch reports.

Already on Saturday, security agencies are pouring through documents seized from the office of former Chairman of the House of Representatives Appropriation Committee, Abdulmumin Jibrin.

The newspaper says Buhari is “favourably disposed to investigations into the allegations in spite of his closeness to the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara.”

Jibrin, who opened the can of worms, visited the DSS headquarters in Abuja on Friday and submitted written demands by four principal officers of the House during the vetting of the 2016 budget by the National Assembly.

It is also reported that he gave copies of the same documents to the police detectives as investigation into the budget fraud began last week.

It was gathered that the DSS would start the investigation in the coming days by quizzing civil servants working in the National Assembly Budget Office and that other affected principal officers would subsequently take their turn.

Jibrin had, in his petitions to the security agencies, accused the House Speaker, Dogara, his deputy, Yusuf Lasun, House Whip, Alhassan Doguwa, and Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, of fraudulently padding the budget.

Sources confirmed that Jibrin had given “incontrovertible” evidence linking the four men to the budget padding scam.

Among the documents, said to have been provided by Jibrin, was the breakdown of the amount that was added to the budget which was allegedly to be shared by Dogara and the conspirators.

In one of the demand notes, Dogara was to get N3billion, deputy speaker, N2.55bn, House leader and chief whip, N1.8bn each, deputy leader and deputy chief whip, N1.5bn each, minority leader and minority whip, N1.4bn each, while the deputy minority leader and deputy minority whip would each get N1.3bn, totalling N17.5bn.

Another proof which may be useful in establishing a case against Dogara & Co include the document on the N20bn projects allegedly inserted into the 2016 budget under the service wide vote.

Detectives are with a document showing the 2,000 projects inserted into the budget by 10 standing committees chairmen which was approved by the speaker. The projects amounted to N284bn. The total amount of the budget padding was said to be N480bn.

It is understood that incriminating evidence Jibrin has handed over to the DSS and police would make it almost impossible for the house leadership to escape prosecution unless President Buhari gets them off the hook via a political solution

As it stands now, Jibrin has the full support of the President and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami in his quest to serve justice to the principal officers of the House of Representatives.

It was learnt that Jibrin met with Malami, who guaranteed him Federal Government’s support for his anti-corruption crusade.

A top government officer, who confided in the newspaper said, “Security agencies have received the backing of the President to probe the allegation.  The President has said that there is no sacred cow in the fight against corruption. You know he is close to Dogara, but he will not stop the security agencies from investigating anybody.”

The source added that though the government is aware that Jibrin is not entirely blameless, it would not overlook the allegations against other principal officers.

Meanwhile, the Presidency made it clear that the President would not ‘interfere with the budget padding allegation in the House.’

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina gave the assurance in an interview with the newspaper and promised that never again will budget padding occur in the Buhari’s administration.

Adesina said the President had told all those concerned that he would not tolerate a situation where he would present a budget and the federal lawmakers would pass a document completely different from what he submitted to them.


Categories: News

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