As investigation into allegations that Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and four other principal officers injected projects worth N281 billion into the 2016 budget continues, indications have emerged that President Muhammadu Buhari is unwilling to assist the suspects from being prosecuted.
This came as it emerged that 262 members of the House have backed the signature drive in solidarity with the speaker. Besides, northern youths, under the aegis of Northern Youths Integrity Forum, NYIF, have written the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, calling for the arrest and prosecution of former chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, Abdulmumin Jibrin, over his role in the controversy surrounding alleged padding of 2016 budget. However, in the heat of the controversy and summons from a special probe panel raised by the Inspector-General of Police, Dogara, last weekend, met Buhari but Presidency sources confirmed to newsmen last night that Buhari was non-committal.
A senior aide of Buhari, who is privy to what transpired at the meeting, said the President did not offer to help the embattled speaker but asked him to cooperate with the probe panel so as to prove his innocence and clear his name. The aide, who pleaded anonymity, said it was not in the character of the President to interfere with any criminal investigation in line with his anti-corruption posture and would, therefore, not offer any form of assistance to anyone undergoing investigation or trial over graft. “This is not about Dogara or anyone in particular. This President will not intercede to stop the investigation or trial of anyone,” the presidential aide said. The refusal of the President to intervene has opened the prospect of a criminal indictment and prosecution should the Modu Ali probe panel establishes sufficient evidence of budget padding against them.
No one’ll be spared —AGF The development comes as the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, awaits the outcome of the police report so as to press criminal charges against those found to have padded the budget both in the National Assembly and in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government.
The minister confirmed to newsmen last night that his office would not hesitate to file charges against anyone found to have committed budget fraud against the interest of the nation. Malami said the report of the police probe would be ready in a matter of weeks and that necessary steps would be taken to deal with the situation in the interest of justice.
The minister said: “We will investigate the executive and legislative conspiracy as it relates to the constituency projects, with a view to measuring the act of execution of the padded projects over the years and in so doing, learn a lesson therefrom in the budget and its implementation as a law with an aim to prosecute infractions and block leakages inherent in the padding process.”