Budget Padding House of Reps turns down EFCC invitation

The Reps, in a letter, have informed the anti-graft agency that it has to send the investigation requests through its Speaker.

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Speaker Yakubu Dogara play

Speaker Yakubu Dogara

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The House of Representatives has turned down invitations of its members from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over the budget padding investigation of 2016's appropriation bill.

The Reps, in a letter, have informed the anti-graft agency that it has to send the investigation requests through its Speaker, Yakubu Dogara.

The House's Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, has refused to appear before the agency if the condition is not met.

Ogor is one of about 50 lawmakers that have been shortlisted to appear before the agency to answer questions pertaining to the allegations of illegally smuggling N284 billion into the 2016 budget.

Those invited include principal officers, Dogara, Ogor, Deputy Speaker, Lasun Yusuf, and House Whip Alhassan Doguwa.

Confirming the receipt of the letter from the house, The Nation reported that a source in the commission had said, "We have received a letter from the Clerk to the House claiming that he was directed by the Speaker  to tell the EFCC that Ogor or any Representative be invited through the Speaker.

"We don’t know what informed such a notice but the Clerk was saying it is the norm. We are weighing options including exhausting all hurdles laid by the House.

"We may write the House but at the end if Ogor and other lawmakers refuse to honour our invitation, we will effect  their arrest.

"No member of the House has constitutional immunity from investigation and prosecution."

Former House Appropriation Committee Chairman, Abdulmumin Jibrin had alleged in a petition last year that lawmakers had tampered with the appropriation bill, and he appeared last week before the EFCC to speak about it.

ALSO READ: EFCC invites Jibrin over allegation against Dogara

The Kano lawmaker fell out with the leadership of the House after he made the allegations public, resulting in his subsequent suspension.

13 lawmakers have been slated to appear in the first batch of the probe, after which the agency will speak to Jibrin again before proceeding to others on the list.

All four principal officers are included in the first batch.