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Lawmakers fault ICPC on alleged N1tr constituency projects

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• President’s outburst self-indicting, says Abaribe

The lower chamber of the National Assembly has faulted the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC) on the claim that over N1 trillion had been expended on constituency projects in the last 10 years.The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, accused the anti-graft agency of being economical with the truth on the funds released for the projects within the period under review.

Speaking after the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu drew the attention of the chamber to the claim under matters of privileges, he expressed the fear that such “unsubstantiated claim could pitch Nigerians against the National Assembly.”His words: “I think it is a breach of our collective privilege as a House and not one person. My concern is the unintended consequences of (the) words spoken. These are words emanating from a report by the ICPC.

“There could be unintended consequences that could come out of it. You put people’s wellbeing at risk. I (don’t) feel it is okay to use the National Assembly as the weeping boys. The fact is that there is the FOI bill.“The ICPC could easily invoke its power of investigation and look at releases as compared to what was budgeted.

“There is a difference between money budgeted and money released. It is as simple as ABC.”On his part, Elumelu maintained that as far as he was concerned, the amount received by the National Assembly for constituency projects did not exceed 50 per cent of the N1 trillion claimed by the ICPC.

Besides, the chamber’s Committee on Public Accounts has summoned the Permanent Secretary, Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Christian Ohaa, to appear before it next week Wednesday to defend the capital projects of the FCT Water Board. Its chairman, Wole Oke (PDP, Osun) who spoke during an investigative hearing with the management of the board led by its Head of Quality Control, Olade Okobi, said Ohaa would also explain all the procurement processes by board.

Also yesterday, the Senate Minority Leader, Eyinaya Abaribe, has described the president’s outburst on the N1 trillion allegedly spent on constituency projects as self-indictment.Addressing a press briefing yesterday on behalf of the Senate PDP caucus in Abuja, Abaribe stated: “We are not worried by the statement because we know that it was a statement that was erroneous, that somebody must have written a speech and put false information in the speech.”“I have done constituency projects and we have always said that constituency projects are not executed by the senators or the House of Representatives members.”

According to him, “constituency projects are domiciled with the executives who execute them.”He added: “So if the president said he has not seen anything, he should ask his ministers and the agencies under him because they are the people who have been executing these projects.”

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