Budget Padding 'Lawmakers divert 80% of constituency project funds,' Lawyer alleges

He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to probe how the funds allocated to constituency projects in the past years were spent.

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A Nigerian senior lawyer, Mr Robert Clark, has said that members of the National Assembly misappropriate 80 per cent of the funds allocated to constituency projects.

Clark, who was speaking on Channel Television on Sunday, August 7, disclosed that almost two trillion naira has been allocated to constituency projects of the National Assembly between 1999 and 2016, alleging that the monies were diverted.

“I have observed and I have done a research. Since 1999 up to date, almost two trillion Naira of Nigerian money has passed through budget for 16 years based on projects allotted to National Assembly members for their constituencies," Clark said.

“I have also observed that 80 per cent of these projects were never carried out.

“Who approved the project to be done? Who paid out to contractors and which contractors handled it?” he questioned," he added.

He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to probe how the funds allocated to constituency projects in the past years were spent.

The lawyer advised the President to set a Judicial Commission of Enquiry to carry out the investigations, so that monies for constituency projects can better be utilised in the future.

On the budget padding scandal rocking the House of Representatives, Clark said budget padding could occur in the beginning, middle or at the end of the budget process, stressing that padding creates an offence when other things are added after the appropriation committee had agreed on all insertions.

“The beginning also contains the padding. The end is when after having been passed as the budget, the monies meant for members of the National Assembly, who have inserted in the budget constituency claims, will now ask the executives to now execute the constituency projects,” he said.

“It is not criminal yet but it is an unlawful act because it is punishable under the rules of the House.

“It is an infringement of the rules of the National Assembly to make insertions on a document after the committee has passed it,” Clark noted.

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He further stated that budget padding is an offence that should be punished within the National Assembly, and not a matter for the anti-graft agencies should not be involved.

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