Step Aside To Allow Investigation into Budget Padding Allegations, SERAP Tells Dogara

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has
called on the Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, to
step down from his exalted position to allow for effective and transparent investigation of allegations of budget padding in the House.
The organisation also told the Speaker point blank that budget padding
is corruption therefore a crime as against Dogara’s claims that
‘budget padding is not an offence.’
Dogara after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the
presidential villa last week, told State House correspondents that:
“Budget padding is not an offence. What is padding? I studied law and
I have been in the legislature and all this period I have never heard
of the word padding being an offence under any law.”
But in a statement on Sunday by the Executive Director of SERAP,
Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organisation said, “Budget padding in fact is
corruption, as it is implicit in corruption offences such as abuse of
office, attempt to embezzle, divert, and misappropriate public funds,
conspiracy to act corruptly, and illicit enrichment, which are
recognized under the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria
is a state party, and included in national legislation such as the
Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act, the Economic and
Financial Crimes Commission Establishment Act and the Fiscal
Responsibility Act.”
For this, SERAP demanded that Dogara steps aside to allow a comprehensive investigation into the allegations made by Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin against him and other principal officers of the House.
The statement said: “The allegations against Mr Dogara and other
principal officials of the House of Representatives also suggest a
subversion of the budget process, which in itself is a crime but also
a fundamental breach of constitutional provisions and an affront to
internationally recognised human rights.
“A prima-facie case of corruption is established when elected
officials are allegedly influenced to act contrary to their
obligations of office by the prospect of financial gain to themselves.
Budget padding also amounts to corruption as the action is against the
public interest. Any appearance of corruption in the budget process
can result in a cynical public to losing interest in political
participation altogether. And democracy can’t work unless Nigerians
have faith in those who govern.
“If Mr Dogara refuses to resign to allow for effective and transparent
investigation and the allegations of budget padding are swept under
the carpet, the ability of the House of Representatives to function as
a watchdog and credible guardian of the public interest would be
seriously compromised.
“The allegations of budget padding and abuse of office by the Speaker
and principal officials of the House of Representatives have continued
to outrage the public, bringing the House’s integrity further into
question”, SERAP said.

Author: News Editor

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