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N481bn Budget Padding: Heads to roll in NASS

Dogara-Jibrin

More trouble that may worsen the frosty relations between the executive and legislative arms of government appears to be looming as the Federal Government moves to punish the brains behind the insertion of illegal projects worth N481 billion by the National Assembly into the 2016 budget.

Although President Muhammadu Buhari grudgingly and belatedly assented to this year’s budget, the executive is settled that the fiscal document would not be fully implemented, given the ‘padding’ of the budget with a significant amount of money, which it claims had seriously distorted its permutations.

We learned from competent sources that the Presidency is still seething with anger over the distortion of the first budget presented by President Buhari by a cabal within the NASS and that it was determined to wield its sledgehammer against the masterminds.

To unravel the culprits for appropriate punitive actions, the Presidency has directed Office of the Attorney General of the Federation to set in motion an impassioned team to probe how the N481 billion was added to the budget and who spearheaded the action.

Acting on the President’s directive, the Office of the AGF has tapped a senior police officer to carry out the probe of top National Assembly officials believed to have conspired among themselves to pad the budget and report back within a short time for necessary disciplinary action, including criminal prosecution.

The top police officer, an Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, described as a no-nonsense police spy, is said to have silently swung into action by holding series of meetings with some officials of the National Assembly without divulging the motive of the interactions. Contacted last night, the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, confirmed raising of the probe team, saying the Federal Government was determined to stamp out all corrupt tendencies in its budget process in order to achieve success.

The AGF, who declined to give details of the probe team, said the aim of the investigation was to ensure that the masterminds were brought to book to serve as a deterrent to would-be corrupt officials in the country.

Malami said the panel would determine the criminal roles played by those involved in the action and how much money was hidden away and the agencies of government involved in the budget scam.

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