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Budget Padding: Efcc Wades In – Writes Clerk, Grills Jibrin As Presidency Absolves Self

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BEVERLY HILLS, AUGUST 9, (THEWILL) – The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has commenced a formal probe into alleged padding of the 2016 federal budget and has written the National Assembly Clerk, Mohammed Sani Omolori, and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Budget and National Planning over the scandal.

The EFCC in an August 3 letter asked Omolori to furnish the commission with the details of all contracts awarded and executed by the Assembly from June 2015 to date and asked the Permanent Secretary to produce documents on the contracts awarded by the Assembly and the budget.

Although no timeline was indicated in the two letters it sought to know the beneficiaries of the contracts, the account details into which payments were made, the total amount already paid for each contract as well as the outstanding balances where applicable from Omolori.

Similarly, the Permanent Secretary was asked to provide a draft copy of the 2016 budget submitted to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari and the final copy returned to the President by the National Assembly.

Meanwhile, the commission for over four hours grilled the former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jirbin, who blew the scandal open following his removal by Speaker Yakubu Dogara.

Jibrin had accused Dogara, Deputy Speaker Yusuff Lasun, Chief Whip Alhassan Ado Doguwa, Minority Leader Leo Ogor and nine others of padding the budget with insertions of projects worth over N40billion.

Meanwhile, the Presidency has distanced itself from the budget padding scandal rocking the National Assembly, saying the 2016 budget which the President signed into law, was not padded.

This was stated by Senator Ita Enang, Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), when he appeared before the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the party's headquarters accompanied by Ismail Kawu, the SSA to the President, (House of Representatives).

“The budget, as assented to by Mr. President, is the budget as passed by the National Assembly and that is the budget being executed,” Enang said.

“When the budget is presented before the legislature, the legislature is to consider the budget and pass as it deems fit. So what the legislature passes becomes the appropriation law upon assent.

“I will say we came here as persons who work as liaison officers on the budget. The party wanted us to make clarifications and we have made those clarifications.”

This was re-echoed by the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, at a town hall meeting in Abuja, saying that the budget signed by the President was well scrutinized and passed through due process of appropriation in the National Assembly before it was signed into law in May.

“We did not assent to a padded budget. The budget followed through the various stages of preparation and scrutiny and appropriation before it was signed into law,” he said

Story by David Oputah