The Federal Government has started compiling the list of legislators in both chambers of the National Assembly over constituency projects earmarked for them in the 2014 and 2015 budgets, which were not executed.
The sum of N100bn was earmarked for constituency projects in each of the 2014 and 2015 budgets.
The worth of constituency projects totalled N200bn for the two years.
Though he declined to give details “in order not to pre-empt investigation,” the AGF said the funds, the names of legislators and the constituency projects that were not executed would be made public after investigation.
He said his office and the law enforcement agencies had received complaints of how payments were made for constituency projects that were never executed.
He said, “The money for constituency projects had been taken, but certain allegations prevailed that some constituency projects were not executed after the money had been paid 100 per cent.
“If money is appropriated in the budget, paid and the projects the funds were meant for were not executed, it is only natural to take steps to find out what happened. If neither the money nor the project can be produced, then you must take steps in accordance with the law.
“There are cases that are specific; we are compiling them. I will not want to pre-empt investigation, we have to allow investigation to be concluded before we go public.”
When asked which of EFCC or ICPC was involved in probing the constituency project fraud, the minister responded, “including the police”.
One of our correspondents learnt that the AGF had received petitions against many of the federal legislators, including a former Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin.
Jibrin had also petitioned the EFCC, ICPC, the police and the Department of State Services, alleging that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, and three other principal officers had requested the inclusion of N40bn projects in the 2016 budget, besides other projects in sums ranging from N20bn to N30bn.
The police are currently investigating Jibrin’s allegations.
MDAs responsible for constituency projects –Lawmakers
However, some lawmakers stated that ministries, departments and agencies under the executive were responsible for the execution of constituency projects.
They explained that lawmakers only identified projects, put them in the national budget, while the MDAs execute them after the president had approved the budget.
The representative of the Oyo South senatorial district at the Senate, Senator Adesoji Akanbi, said any probe into the constituency projects should start from the executive.
He said, “There is a certain amount set aside for constituency projects. Each lawmaker is allocated a certain amount of money and they will identify the projects of their choice. But the execution by contractors has nothing to do with lawmakers. The main role we play is to name the project and make sure that the project is executed.”
When he was asked if it was possible for a lawmaker to influence the selection of the contractor and the execution of the project, Akanbi said, “That means the ministry or the agency handling the project has been compromised.’’
Akanbi, however, said lawmakers could be culpable in the manipulation because they had to certify that the job had been done before the contractor could be paid.
Senator George Sekibo, who is recontesting his election in the Rivers-East senatorial district, also said the projects included in any budget passed by the National Assembly were executed by the MDAs.
The legistlator, who has been in the Senate since 2007, stated that lawmakers were not involved in the execution of constituency projects.
He said, ‘‘Nobody gives a kobo to any senator for constituency project. All a senator does is to recommend a project for his constituency.”
The House also said the role of lawmakers in constituency projects was limited to the selection of the projects, while relevant MDAs carried out the implementation.
It also said no member was handed cash or paid money for the implementation of the projects.
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, said, “Members do not execute constituency projects, and they don’t receive money for the projects.
“For example, a health centre will naturally be done by the Ministry of Health or any agency so designated by the executive to handle the project. It is not the member who implements the project or appoints the contractors.”
CSOs back FG probe
Civil rights groups supported the probe.
A United States-based activist, Simon Ajaja, said constituency projects had brought fraud.
He said, “The idea is an organised fraud driven by the mostly ignoble men and women who have serially foisted themselves on Nigeria and Nigerians as their lawmakers, but with no intentions of making laws that would engineer national development beyond advancing a cause for themselves via phoney loopholes in the system.”
Also, the Executive Secretary of The Anti-Corruption Network, Ebenezer Oyetakin, urged the Federal Government to carry out a thorough probe.
“The constituency projects have become an avenue for the members of the National Assembly to recoup the outrageous money spent to run elections and to feed their corruption nest rather than serving the purpose they are defined to serve,” he added.
The President of Campaign for Democracy, Bako Usman, said, “This will create more synergy between the executive and the legislature, and even the judiciary. When it comes to budget harmonisation and implementation, issues like padding will no longer occur.”
The National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, advised the government to limit access to money by public officials.
He said, “The government should start institutional reforms that will ensure that people don’t have access to that kind of money again.’’
Efforts to get the reaction of the Senate’s spokesperson, Senator Sani Abdullahi, proved abortive as his mobile phone rang out. He had yet to reply to a text message sent to him.
Buhari Leaves Abuja To Attend African Finance summit in Paris
President Muhammadu Buhari will depart Abuja on Sunday for Paris, France, on a four-day official visit to attend African Finance Summit.
The Summit according to the statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu in Abuja is expected to focus on reviewing the African economy, following shocks from the Coronavirus pandemic, and getting relief, especially from increased debt burden on countries.
The statement further explained that the Summit, to be hosted by President Emmanuel Macron, will draw major stakeholders in the global financial institutions and some Heads of Government, who will, collectively, discuss external funding and debt treatment for Africa, and private sector reforms
“During the visit, President Buhari will meet with the French President to discuss growing security threats in Sahel and Lake Chad region, political relations, economic ties, climate change and partnership in buoying the health sector, particularly in checking the spread of Covid-19, with more research and vaccines, ” it said.
Shehu in the statement said before returning to Nigeria, President Buhari will receive some key players in the oil and gas sector, engineering and telecommunications, European Council and European Union Representative for Foreign and Security Policy and Commission, and members of the Nigerian community.
The President will be accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, Minister of Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, and Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire.
Also on the trip are National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Mohammed Monguno (rtd) and Director General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Amb. Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.
Restructure Nigeria Before 2023 Polls, Afenifere Tells Buhari
The pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, on Friday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to bury the idea of holding elections before restructuring the country.
The Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, who made the call at the group’s meeting held at his Ogbo residence in Odogbolu local government area of Ogun State, said: “there must be a country before elections are held”.
Adebanjo said: “We urge Buhari to bury the idea of holding an election before returning to federalism by restructuring the country.
“There must be a country before elections are held, it would be patriotic of him to heed this advice. If Gen. Buhari is sincere about keeping the country together, he must restructure the country now this is the only answer to halt the disintegration of the country. To save Nigeria, restructure the country now.
“We should be proud as inheritors of a noble heritage, the party (Afenifere) was founded on the political philosophy of federalism due to the multi-ethnic, multilingual, multicultural and multi-religious nature of our country”.
“Failure to adhere to this principle has been the cause of the instability that has plagued our country since Independence. Our consistent advocacy for the restructuring of the country to federalism is based on the founding philosophy of the party”.
“It is for this reason that the founding leader of the party is known as the father of federalism in Nigeria”.
“It is the only political system that can keep the country together in peace. It is mischievous for President Buhari’s government to accuse advocates of restructuring as secessionist and separatists”.
“It is the system that our founding fathers, The Saudarna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmad Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe agreed to before the British government granted us independence in 1960, after the collapse of Macpherson constitution in 1953”.
“The present constitution which is the cause of instability in the country is imposed on us by the military-dominated by Northern Muslims after the coup of 1966”.
“The clamor for the return of the country to federalism is born out of the obnoxious provision in the constitution which has made economic and political progress impossible and this has been the main cause of instability in the country”.
“Our resolve for the restructuring of the country back to federalism is unshakeable. We assert we are no secessionist. It is those who oppose restructuring that are enemies of a United Nigeria. That all opponents of restructuring give impetus to secessionists”.
“We do not believe in the National Assembly which is a product of this fraudulent constitution to amend the constitution, it is immoral and illogical for a product of fraud to amend the fraud.
Six years ago, I warned the nation of the danger of voting for Gen. Muhammad Buhari, I accused him of being a feudalist by birth, a dictator by training and a religious fanatic”.
“I accused him of being a tribalist who has no respect for the rule of law. We were bombarded with the propaganda that he will ruthlessly fight corruption which they said was the bane of Jonathan administration”.
“They even told us that as a military man, he would wipe out Boko Haram in 6 months. But after six years in office, we now know better. Buhari has failed in his promises to the electorate”.
“Our economy is in tatters, corruption is growing in arithmetical proportion. Our security has collapsed to the extent that Buhari’s government has become so helpless that it now negotiates with Bandits who are so powerful that they dictate the terms of the negotiation. Kidnapping, murder, rape and various acts of criminality pervade the length and breadth of the country unabated”.
“The clamour for Gen. Buhari to resign or be impeached is growing louder and louder every day”.
“As a cover-up for his misdeeds, Gen. Buhari has resorted to silence the opposition by raising the false alarm that former military officers and prominent leaders of the ethnic organization and some Emirs are planning a meeting to pass a vote of no confidence in him. You will wonder even if that allegation is true when is it illegal or unconstitutional in a democracy for citizens to associate. Freedom of association is embedded in our constitution”.
“He also raises a false alarm that people are planning a coup. I assert Gen. Buhari has failed woefully, he has no clue about the problems facing Nigeria. He should go now before he plunged the country into a crisis the end of which nobody can foretell”.
“The Yoruba people are the only ethnic group that has never called for secession. We have invested in a united Nigeria that we will resist any act that will lead to its break up. We will be in Nigeria as equal partners in a federal Nigeria. A Nigeria in which we will play a second fiddle is most unacceptable”.
Therefore, our irreducible minimum condition of staying in Nigeria is a restructured Nigeria. Anything short of that is ‘‘to thy tent, oh Isreal.” The unity of the horse and the rider in which a section of the country is the rider and we the horse is most unacceptable.
Afenifere by our resilience and consistency over the years has proved to be the most reliable and dependable organization in the country”.
“I assert very confidently that from the First Republic we are the only national party in the country”.
“It is our consistent and persistent agitation for the right of minorities that has given birth to Edo, Delta, Rivers, Cross River and Akwa Ibom states in the South and Benue, Plateau, Borno, Kwara and the Adamawa States in the North”.
“Our party manifesto of Free Education, Free Health and Integrated Rural Development as successfully implemented in the West is not confined to Yoruba land but applicable and implementable beyond Yoruba land across the length and breadth of Nigeria.
“Afenifere is the beacon of progressive politics. The political philosophy of federalism propagated by our leader the sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo is now the sing-song all over the country today.
I hereby appeal to all our members who for one reason or another have sojourned in the other parties to come back home, you will be welcome with open arms. There is room for the youth to rise to leadership on the merit of their performance.
“It is cheering that the call for the restructuring is no longer limited to Afenifere, PANDEF and Middle-Belt forum, The Northern Elders Forum, Arewa Consultative Forum have joined the crusade”.
While declaring the group support to the decisions of the Southern governors in their efforts towards tackling the problem of insecurity facing the country, Chief Adebanjo said, “Afenifere welcomes and endorse fully the resolution of the Southern Governors Forum. And we hope Gen. Buhari in the interest of Nigeria unity, peace, tranquillity and economic progress give serious attention to the recommendation”.
ICPC Declares Buhari’s Son-In-Law, Two Others Wanted For $65M Fraud
The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission (ICPC) has declared Gimba Kumo, a son-in-law of President Muhammadu Buhari, and two others wanted over alleged misappropriation of $65 million National Housing Funds.
Mr. Kumo, a former managing director of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, had in 2016 married Fatima, the president’s daughter, in Daura, Katsina State.
The ICPC in its list of wanted persons declared Mr. Kumo wanted alongside Tarry Rufus and Bola Ogunsola over the alleged fraud.
In the notice signed by its spokesperson Azuka Ogugua, the ICPC urged the public to provide information about the whereabouts of the wanted persons.
“The persons whose pictures appear above, Mr. Tarry Rufus, Mr. Gimba Yau Kumo, and Mr. Bola Ogunsola, are hereby declared WANTED by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in connection with issues bordering on misappropriation of National Housing Funds and diversion of the sum of Sixty Five Million dollars ($65,000,000).
“Anyone who has useful information on their whereabouts should report to ICPC Headquarters Abuja, any of the ICPC State Offices, or the nearest police station” the notice read.
In April, the senate committee on public accounts had summoned Mr. Kumo to explain the alleged irregular award of N3 billion contract when he was still at the bank.
The committee issued the summons following a query raised in a 2015-2018 report by the office of the auditor-general of the federation (AuGF) against the FMBN.
According to the report, the contract was awarded in four phases and was overpaid to the tune of N3,045,391,531.97.
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