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Saturday, 26 November 2016

‘Nigerian Senators, Reps have pocketed N500 billion since 2006’

Nigerian Senators and House of Representatives members have pocketed half a trillion Nigeria between 2006 and 2016, a member who was suspended for exposing alleged fraud in the House said Friday.
Abdulmumin Jibrin said he was exploring ways for foreign investigators to probe the alleged fraud, which he said amounted to “a crime against humanity”.
Mr. Jibrin said member received the huge figure as “running cost”, provided for each year in National Assembly budgets.
“The National Assembly has received about N1 trillion since 2006 and about N500 billion has gone directly into private pockets through the fraud called running cost,” Mr. Jibrin said in a statement.
Mr. Jibrin said he was corroborating former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s claims about the level of corruption in the National Assembly.
Mr. Obasanjo came down hard on the legislators in a speech in Lagos on Wednesday, chiding the parliament as “a den of corruption” controlled by “a gang of unarmed robbers”.
He called on President Buhari to take extreme measures to purge the parliament of its corrupt elements, saying it “stinks and stinks to high heavens.”
The House of Representatives hit back at the former leader the next day, labelling him as the “most corrupt” Nigerian in history.
In a statement signed by its spokesman, Abdulrazak Namdas, the House said Mr. Obasanjo had lost the moral standing to speak against corruption, having allegedly bribed lawmakers with a huge stash of money over a decade ago.
Mr. Jibrin took sides with Mr. Obasanjo in the faceoff, saying the former president’s attacks were “characteristically blunt and honest”.
He said the allocation of the National Assembly had seen an exponential growth in recent years.
Mr. Jibrin dismissed Mr. Namdas’ explanation why the House had been hiking its budget every year as a manifestation of his “lack of institutional knowledge” on budgetary issues.
“Namdas lacked the institutional knowledge to comment on issues like this,” Mr. Jibrin said. “What does he know about allocations to the House?”
“Statutory allocations to the National Assembly rose from about N40 billion in 2006 to N150 billion in 2011 and N120 billion in 2015 and N115 billion in 2016.”
Mr. Jibrin said details of the National Assembly budget are shrouded in secrecy and are being hidden from even most lawmakers.
Despite effusive promises, Senate President Bukola Saraki failed to publish details of the National Assembly budget for 2016. Mr. Saraki and Mr. Dogara sidestepped Nigerians’ demand for transparency in the parliament’s expenses throughout the year.
The opacity and other alleged official transgressions of Mr. Saraki, Mr. Dogara and other lawmakers will be forwarded to the FBI and Interpol, Mr. Jibrin said.
“I have received a briefing from my lawyers in London that such scams equal a crime against humanity,” Mr. Jibrin said. “And there are laws in America and Europe that allow the FBI and Interpol to deal with such cases at the international level so that the culprits who created the scam can be prosecuted.”
Mr. Namdas did not immediately respond to PREMIUM TIMES’ requests for comment Saturday afternoon.

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