‘Stolen documents’ stalling 2017 budget, says National Assembly
• Asks IGP to return items, demands apology over raid
• Police chief meets with Senate President Bukola Saraki
Raising the alarm that the 2017 appropriation bill is being stalled, the National Assembly yesterday asked the police high command to return the vital documents the force allegedly took away during the raid on the official residence of the Chairman, Joint Committee on Appropriations, Senator Danjuma Goje.
The Senate noted that the “missing” documents and a computer appliance were relevant to the passage of the budget. What is unfolding may delay the passage of the budget and this will hinder the execution of major programmes and projects that could improve the lot of the citizens.
Adopting the presentation made by Goje regarding the invasion last week Thursday, the upper chamber directed the police to tender a public apology to the National Assembly in addition to returning the documents.
President of the Senate, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, disclosed that the force had confirmed to its Committee on Police Affairs that it was misled by a whistleblower.He, however, insisted that the chamber would not accept that excuse, declaring that an immediate official explanation must be provided to the Senate on the operation.
His words: “This matter is very serious. As Senator Goje has said, it is now over five days with no statement from the police on why this raid was done or tell us where these files which are very important to the appropriation process are.
“Sadly, I must tell you distinguished senators that informally, the chairman of the police committee told me this morning (yesterday) that the force is saying that the whistleblower misled them. “If a whistleblower misled them, I think they should come out and accept responsibility.”
Consequently, the chamber raised an adhoc committee, headed by Jibril Barau (APC, Kano), to investigate the matter. Other members include Isa Misau (APC, Bauchi), Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu) and David Umaru (APC, Niger).
The panel was also mandated to probe the alleged assassination attempt on Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi).Earlier, Goje claimed that the affected policemen took N18 million, $19,000 and 4,000 Saudi Riyadh from his house during the sting exercise.
He went on: “In addition, they took my laptop and 18 files from my office. I am so traumatised and do not know which file is missing and available now. Some of these files have to do with the work I am doing.
“Like I told you, we were holding a meeting that Thursday when they came. “I want to apologise to my colleagues that we could not keep to the timetable you gave us to lay the budget yesterday (Tuesday) and to get it passed on Wednesday. And I think it is not our own fault, it is the fault of the police because they interfered with the whole of the process.”
Besides, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, yesterday visited Saraki for reasons not unconnected with the face-off.Details of the meeting, which held behind closed doors, were, however, not disclosed at press time.
Also yesterday, the House of Representatives maintained that germane documents that could facilitate work on the appropriation bill were missing.Adopting a motion, sponsored by Abubakar Yunusa Ahmed (Yamalta: Deba/Gombe: APC) at the plenary presided over by Speaker Yakubu Dogara, the lawmakers called on the police chief to return the documents so that the passage of the budget would not be jeopardised by what they termed “the unlawful action of the security agents”.
The House also set up an ad-hoc committee to, not only summon the IGP, but also probe the invasion. It was directed to report back in two weeks for further legislative action.
Ahmed, while moving the motion entitled, “Need to check the excesses of security agents with regard to invasion of residences of law-abiding citizens,” described the action as a gross violation of Goje’s fundamental rights.
With the exception of Mohammed Soba (Kaduna: Soba: APC), who cautioned his colleagues against apportioning blame since the rationale for the raid could still be subjected to investigation, others roundly denounced the invasion.