Following the alleged padding of N40 billion, the rift rocking the National Assembly (NASS) has just started as a non-governmental organization, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has listed reasons why the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and Indepaendent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission should carry out independent investigation on the controversial issue.
One of the reasons Adetokunbo Mumuni, the Executive Director for SERAP, listed was for the sake of ensuring transparency and trust in the leadership of the Assembly, led by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara after the immediate past Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmunin Jibrin, made an accusation against the Speaker and three other principal officers for padding N40 billion in the 2016 budget.
In Adetokunbo Mumuni’s words: “Given the seriousness and gravity of the allegations against the leadership of the House, any investigation by the House would not be enough as this would not meet the threshold of an effective, transparent and independent investigation.
“Nigerians will not have confidence in the House investigating itself in this case.
“The Speaker must now move swiftly to refer the allegations to the EFCC and the ICPC to allow for a swift, transparent, effective and independent investigation in order to contain the damage that is already done.”
The SERAP Director said it is expected that the members of the House display full accountability of what is placed in their care and should not resist any form of probing.
“There must be full accountability for any leader or member of the House found to be responsible.
“These allegations also raise numerous questions about the need for greater level of transparency and accountability in the National Assembly such as telling Nigerians the salaries and allowances of Senators and members of the House.
“Public auditing of spending by the National Assembly and why several concluded reports on allegations of corruption that have been investigated by the National Assembly remain shrouded in secrecy and skewed to favour suspected corrupt officers.”
Mr Mumuni made a recommendation that a bill to prove members’ integrity should be proposed and adopted by the house, if corrupt acts will be checked and confidence restored on the leadership and members of the house.
The SERAP boss in addressing the Senate’s immunity clause further mentioned that the clamour for immunity by some principal legislative officers is a corrupt act. He urged the Speaker, Dogara to join EFCC, ICPC and other anti-corruption agencies in publicly tackling the proposal as it is not in the interest of the masses.
– ‘Seyifunmi Adebote for encomium.ng