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Zamfara lawmakers in trouble over N1bn in padded budget



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The alleged padding of the 2016 budget by the National Assembly may have assumed a new dimension as two federal lawmakers from Zamfara State have been placed under the radar of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for alleged padding of the budget to the tune of N1 billion.

According sources, the lawmakers were said to have taken away N1 billion under the guise of constituency projects with no projects in the state to show for it.

The two lawmakers reportedly connived with key officials of the Rima Basin Development Authority to award contracts worth N1 billion to companies for projects which were not seen anywhere in the state.

The discovery of the fraud was said to have annoyed the Gummi Emirate Development Association, leading to a petition to the EFCC and the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, to investigate the two lawmakers and bring them to book.

The AGF, Mr. Abubakar Malami, has reportedly swung into action to bring to book those who allegedly padded the budget.

In a related development, another Senator from the South South has been alleged to have padded the budget through the Cross River Basin Authority, CRBRDA, to the tune of N1.2bn.

The Senator, according to reports, who secured rural water and sanitation projects worth N1.2 billion in the CRBRDA, was said to have directed his brothers and kinsmen to use companies unrelated to him and his family in getting the contracts from the CRBRDA and funnel the money to him and those chosen as beneficiaries.

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Unconfirmed reports say the Senator originally inserted projects worth N4 billion into the 2016 budget before it was scaled down following the rejection of the estimate by President Buhari in April this year.

He allegedly grudgingly accepted the sum of N3.4 billion, which he hid away in CRBRDA and SMEDAN and some other agencies.

It would be recalled that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, have been in war of words over allegations by Jibrin that the speaker and three other lawmakers padded the budget to the tune of N40bn.

While Dogara and the three others have denied any wrongdoing, Jibrin has insisted that his allegations were true and gone ahead to submit a petition to the EFCC.

However, the National Assembly, has insisted that there is nothing like budget padding, claiming that it was mandated by law to alter the budget submitted by the Executive.

According to the lawmakers, there was nothing wrong with adding or subtracting from what the President presented.

By Timothy Enietan-Matthews

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