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Dogara shuns IGP’s SIP as Reps say police,  EFCC lack power to probe them

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Dogara, minister accuse Gov. Abubakar of squandering N8.6bn bailout fund

The planned interaction with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, by the Special Investigative Panel, SIP, investigating allegations of budget padding did not take place on Wednesday.

This is just as some members of the House, Wednesday, claimed the police and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC do not have the power to investigate the internal processes of the House.

The speaker and other members of the House invited refused to appear before the SIP set up be the Inspector General of Police, IGP, to probe the budget padding allegations.

Those invited included the Deputy Speaker, Lasun Yusuf, Chief Whip, Ado-Doguwa and Minority Leader, Leo Ogor.

It would be recalled that the sacked Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Abdulmumin Jibrin, had accused the four principal officers of the House of padding the 2016 budget. He also accused Dogara of financial fraud and influence peddling.

Jibrin also approached the police and the EFCC with petitions on the allegations.

The panel, set up by the IGP, Ibrahim Idris, last Friday invited Dogara and others to appear before it via a letter sent to the speaker.

Though there is no official word from the office of the speaker on why he and his colleagues stayed away from the panel, a source close to him said the letter from the panel is being treated as an informal invitation because it did not carry the signature of the IGP.

According to the source, the document was “considered to be informal because it was signed by a low-ranking officer.”

He said: “The Speaker is the number four citizen of this country. If you are sending a letter to him, there should be a signature of the Inspector-General of Police on it.”

Read also: It is our job to pad budget, House committee chair insists

In a related develooment, some members of the House rose from a meeting on Wednesday and declared that neither the police nor the EFCC had the power to investigate legislative proceedings.

It also came to light that majority of the 96 committee chairmen and their 96 deputies are of the view that the 2016 Appropriation Act is already a law in operation.

An official of the House said: “The 2016 money bill did not only comply with the provisions of the constitution, but also followed all other legislative processes of passing bills by the National Assembly.

“The question that has remained unanswered is what the police and the anti-graft agencies want to investigate.”

Also, the Chairman of the House Committee on Army, Mr. Rima Shawulu, insisted that the involvement of the police and the EFCC in “purely parliamentary processes” was a waste of resources and man-hours.

“The police and the EFCC cannot investigate the internal proceedings of the House. Neither the House rules nor the Constitution of this country gives them the power to do so.

“What are they coming to investigate? That Jibrin said budget was padded? If he said budget was padded, he must bring the original. Where is the original?

“Let him publish the original. What will the police do in this case? That the House did not follow its process before the President signed the budget into law?

“If they are saying the zonal intervention projects are not being executed as passed in the budget, that is criminal, but that is not the case here.

“There is no place in the legislative process for the police or the EFCC.”

By Timothy Enietan-Matthews

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