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Police, EFCC begin probes into budget padding allegations in NASS

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There are indications that the security agencies have begun investigations into allegations of budget padding in the National Assembly.While the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is beaming its searchlight on the Senate Committee on Appropriations over the allegations, the police has also confirmed the receipt of three versions of the 2016 budget, with a view to looking into the matter.

According to a source at the EFCC, the investigation of the senate committee is a fallout of allegations by the former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin.

The decision of the anti-graft agency was said to have been informed by the need to get to the root of the budget padding allegation and the possible involvement of the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

The source also said that after preliminary investigations by the EFCC, it discovered that there is an urgent need to take a close look at the senate committee.

It was gathered that the committee is being investigated over alleged insertions amounting to about N5 billion in some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

The source said: “It is true the petition by Jibril centered on activities of the House leadership, but in order to ensure that there are no clash of investigations, the EFCC has decided to Centre its investigations on the Senate Committee on Appropriations. By that we will be able to make distinct discoveries.”

In the same vein, the police on Monday confirmed that it has retrieved three versions of the 2016 budget from Jibrin as police authorities began a probe into the allegations.The Special Investigation Panel, SIP, put in place by the Acting Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, is said to be going through the documents to isolate the padded areas.

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According to a police source, the search for padded areas by the panel has started.

The source said: As at Monday (yesterday), the panel was in receipt of three versions of the 2016 Budget.“These versions are the original copy laid before the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari, the version  passed by the National Assembly but rejected by the President due to omission of some key projects, such as the N60billion Calabar-Lagos rail project; and the harmonised copy.

“With the retrieval of these budget versions, detectives have started identifying padded areas by the House members.

“After locating these padded areas, the SIP will be able to determine the focus of interrogation and the list of those to be questioned alongside the 13 already implicated by Jibrin.

“The SIP may interact with all members of the House Committee on Appropriations and some chairmen of committees.

“We are also monitoring every claim by members in the media to guide our investigation.”

The source also disclosed that Jibrin has furnished the SIP with additional documents while he was asked to provide more.

“Jibrin brought additional documents to support his allegations. What he did was to support every allegation with proof and the sources where he got all the documents. He is trying to prove his case that the padding was criminal.

“We have requested him for additional facts. So, Jibrin could be with us tomorrow (today) or Wednesday. We have told him additional things to bring as part of our preliminary investigation.

“We will invite Dogara and the others after we are done with Jibrin”, the source said.

 

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