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Budget padding: Lawmakers snub EFCC invitations

*We can add or remove from the budget

Members of the House of Representatives have stated that they will ignore the invitations by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations of budget padding.

The lawmakers said that the only condition to honour the invitation is if it will be routed through the Speaker of the House, Mr Yakubu Dogara.

A member told journalists that they will honour the EFCC call as soon as the agency routes its invitation to 50 members invited through the Speaker over the allegations of budget padding

The lawmakers invited for questioning include Dogara himself, Deputy Speaker, Lasun Yusuf; Leo Ogor and House Whip Alhassan Doguwa.

We had reported that EFCC has re-opened investigation of Dogara over allegations of budget padding.

The report called attention to the fact that suspended former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumini Jibrin had blown the whistle on Dogara to vent anger over his removal and suspension.

To help in the investigation, therefore, the anti-graft agency re-invited Jibrin, as well as 50 lawmakers over the investigation.

Dogara is under investigation over allegations that he illegally added figures (budget padding) to Nigeria’s 2016 budget after it was passed by parliament.

Reacting, Dogara had said that the National Assembly has powers to introduce new projects, add, remove or reduce items in the Appropriations Bills.

According to the Speaker, “a declaration as to which of the arms has the power and rights, in as much as it is related to the interpretation of the law, is the function of the judiciary and not of the executive.”

Another lawmaker, Hon. Lawal Abubakar (APC, Adamawa), also argued that his privilege as a member was breached by statements credited to Acting President Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

Osinbajo was quoted to have said on two occasions that the National Assembly has no powers to introduce new projects to the budget before passing it.

Dogara also argued that the Appropriation Act is a law enacted by the parliament and that public officers from the President to his ministers have sworn to uphold the Constitution.

He said that refusal or failure to implement the budget is violation of the Constitution which has consequences.

The Speaker also stated that in the event of refusal to assent to any bill by the Executive, the constitution empowers the National Assembly to override such veto in the interest of the public.

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