Speaker Dogara berated for saying padding is not corruption

Prominent Nigerians and groups have berated the Speaker of the House of Reps, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, for claiming that budget padding is not an offence.

Dogara, after a closed-door meeting with President Buhari on Friday, said he would not resign over the budget padding allegation against him by Abdulmumin Jibrin, because to him there's no offence.

Speaking with journalists after the meeting, he said, “I studied Law and I have been in the legislature and all this period I have never heard of the word ‘padding’ being an offence under any law.”

Nigerians reaction to the speaker's position:

It is criminal — Falana, Clarke, others
Condemning the Speaker, a human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), told Punch that the alleged padding of the Federal Government’s budget by some members of the National Assembly constituted a criminal offence.

He explained that the offence of padding the budget was not a “once-and-for-all” like murder.

The senior lawyer said it started as conspiracy while planning it and concluded when it was used to draw money fraudulently after the budget had been passed.

Falana had also said that it was logical for those implicated in the scam to step down because Jibrin had done the same.

He said, “The act violates Fiscal Responsibility Act. Section 13 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act prescribes that relevant agencies, including the National Assembly, make input into the budget. Relevant government agencies are required to do the costing for the projects to be included in the budget.

“It is expected that negotiation and costing of projects should have been concluded while the preparation is going on. Budgeting is a process. Budget is money bill, which must necessarily originate from the executive. Section 81(1) of the Constitution says the President shall cause the budget to be prepared and lay it before the National Assembly. The National Assembly cannot cause the budget to be prepared and lay it before itself.

“What the National Assembly can do after the budget is laid before it is to reduce the amount if it is convinced it is inflated.

“So it is conspiracy when they increase the amount or insert projects into the budget. The criminal act is concluded when they now draw from the funds they have inserted.”

Another Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Robert Clarke said, “As for Dogara, morality beckons on him to resign and face investigation. When there are allegations of such against a public officer, that’s the appropriate thing to do. But that only happens in civilised societies. Nigeria too is a civilised society, but it’s unfortunate we’ve never seen something like that happening.

“Some of us concerned citizens are pleading with Dogara to step down and face investigation. But if he does not want to do that, we will wait and let the course of events take its turn.”

Also, President of Campaign for Democracy, Abdul Usman, said budget padding without following the due process was illegal. He called on the Speaker to resign.

Usman stated, “Dogara should resign for this illegal inclusion of projects that doesn’t exist in his constituency in the 2016 budget, as alleged by his colleague.”

He called on security and anti-graft agencies to investigate those involved in the illegal action.