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Budget crisis: Exposing N30b fraud forced my arrest, Abaribe alleges

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Fresh allegation of fraud in the 2018 budget amounting to about N30b, yesterday, emerged as Chairman of Senate Committee on Power, Eyinnanya Abaribe, alleged that the money was included in the budget document after the National Assembly (NASS) approved it.

Abaribe, who was arrested and detained by the Department of State Services (DSS) on Friday, told journalists through his counsel, Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume, SAN, in Abuja, that his arrest might not be unconnected with the revelation.

According to Abaribe, the N30b, which was listed for expansion and re-inforcement of infrastructure in the distribution companies “never passed through the Senate Power Committee.”

Ume explained that Abaribe had threatened to release a document on the alleged fraud to the public at a press conference, but was never allowed to do so before his arrest.

He also pointed out that Abaribe’s role in exposing the N1.7b fraud in the Enugu Airport Terminal in the 2018 budget also attracted government’s rage, even as he accused the Federal Government of muzzling opposition in the guise of fighting corruption.

He said that Abaribe was also going to provide more details on the alleged fraud in the Second Niger Bridge budget before his arrest.

The NASS had on Friday, said there is no existing contract for the Second Niger Bridge in spite of frequent requests from the National Assembly.

Faulting the arrest of the Senator, Ume stated that his arrest was also informed by his consistent criticism of the Federal Government.

He said that Abaribe’s arrest was in breach of the requirement that a Senator could only be arrested after the nod of the Senate President was sought and obtained.

According to the legal practitioner, the arrest was equally in breach of the parliamentary immunity enjoyed by lawmakers regarding words spoken in chamber.

Ume also told journalists that despite the search by men of the DSS at Abaribe’s Abuja residence, no incriminating item was found, stressing that the search was for weapons and ammunition.


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