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National Assembly aides accuse Clerk of diverting N128b

By John Akubo, Abuja
25 February 2022   |   2:47 am
National Assembly Legislative Aides Forum (NASSLAF) has accused the Clerk to the Assembly, Amos Ojo, of diverting N128 billion meant for salary arrears and other contingent allowances.

National Assembly. Photo/facebook/TopeBrown/NigerianSenate

Clerk says allegation speculative

National Assembly Legislative Aides Forum (NASSLAF) has accused the Clerk to the Assembly, Amos Ojo, of diverting N128 billion meant for salary arrears and other contingent allowances.

NASSLAF is a body of parliamentary staff employed on a tenure basis to work with federal lawmakers.

Addressing newsmen, yesterday, in Abuja, Chairman of the Forum, Salisu Zuru, lamented that the 9th National Assembly under subjected the legislative aides to untold hardship since 2019.

But the Special Adviser on Media and Labour to the Clerk, Adesoro Austen, dismissed the allegation, describing it as unfounded and speculative.

According to him, the National Assembly management treats issues on the basis of priority, adding that NASSLAF executives should learn to communicate their challenges to the appropriate authorities.

He said: “NASSLAFF should learn to exhaust the internal mechanism for dispute resolutions as stipulated in the extant Labour laws and come to terms with the reality of the paucity of funds confronting the legislature and the nation with an urgent need to prioritise the copious needs on the ground.”

NASSLAF alleged monumental corruption and stealing by the Clerk, given that there was a budgetary provision in 2019 for arrears, but whereabouts remained a mystery.

The aides averred that their salaries and arrears ought to have started from the date of assumption on June 11, 2019, being inauguration day alongside their principals, but that the Ojo-led management paid some aides and left others.

They revealed that they had explored all available means to sort out the impasse without fruitful results, even as the House of Representatives, some time ago, passed a resolution that all arrears of salaries, allowance and Duty Tour Allowance (DTA) be paid.

Chairman of the forum said a new twist was introduced as the Clerk told the NASSLAF executive that there was no money.

Zuru explained that NASSLAF executive was once accused of compromise because of their firm belief in approaching the matter with diplomacy, stressing that it was the ‘compromise belief’ by some members that gave rise to another forum operating under the aegis of Salary Affected Legislative Aides Forum.

“In the 2019 Appropriation Act, N128 billion was appropriated for salaries and overhead for legislators, National Assembly bureaucracy and legislative aides.

“Legislative aides’ matters being directly under the office of the Speaker, House of Representatives, aides got the attention and sympathy of some of their principals in the House to raise the issue and seek respite on the floor of the House,” he said.

The forum further accused the NASS management of not paying minimum wage, adding that the National Assembly Service Commission was also complicit in the plight of aides.