Senate begins probe of N328bn amnesty spending
• Court reserves judgment on Saraki’s appeal
The Senate yesterday commenced investigation into mismanagement of N328 billion budgeted since 2009 for the amnesty programme.
The initiative was packaged by late President Umaru Yar’Adua to rehabilitate disarmed militants who had been involved in the destruction of oil pipelines and kidnap of expatriates, and integrate them into society.
Though the programme helped a number of militants to acquire education and various skills, there have, in recent times, been allegations of corruption and mismanagement of resources against handlers of the scheme.
Declaring the public hearing open, Senate President Bukola Saraki said: “Seven years down the line, since the conceptualisation of the amnesty programme, can we truly say the primary reason for that decision has been achieved? Has the restiveness and frayed nerves reduced? Has the vandalism of oil facilities in the region stopped? What impact has the payment of monthly stipends made to the youths of the region? How sustainable is the amnesty programme to the Federal Government? Some of these questions will form the crux of deliberations in this public hearing.
“The current incidence of pipeline vandalism and destruction of oil facilities by Niger Delta militants have in no small measure caused the current economic recession that has presently gripped the country. It has reduced the quantity of crude produced daily from two to one million barrels per day, thereby reducing dollar inflow to the national treasury.”
Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, presided by Justice Abdul Aboki, has reserved judgment in the appeal filed by Saraki challenging his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over allegations of false and anticipatory declaration of assets preferred against him by the Federal Government.
Saraki is contending in the appeal that the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) did not give him the opportunity to react to the alleged discrepancies in the assets declaration form he submitted to the bureau before charges were filed.
He is also challenging the jurisdiction of the CCT to try him on charges bordering on false and anticipatory assets declaration, operation of foreign accounts, and receipt of salary after his tenure as governor elapsed.
The Senate President had approached the appellate court challenging the March 24, 2016 ruling of the two-member panel of the CCT, led by Danladi Yakubu Umar, which dismissed his application challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to entertain the case.