HUMAN rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) has added his voice to the call for investigation and prosecution of federal lawmakers involved in the padding of the 2016 budget, but said the Department of State Services, DSS, lacked both the moral and legal rights to carry out the probe. Falana said in a statement yesterday that the DSS had by its recent acts lost moral right to probe the scam and thus could not be trusted with such responsibility. He cited as an example DSS’ recent arrest and detention of the principal officers and administrative staff of the Zamfara State House of Assembly for attempting to commence impeachment proceedings against Governor Mohammed Yari, on grounds of alleged corrupt practices. He also said there was no legal backing for the DSS to embark on such investigation as the agency, by virtue of National Security Agencies Act, was strictly limited to the “preservation and detection within Nigeria of any crime against the internal security of Nigeria.” He said since the alleged budget padding was a form of economic crime and had nothing to do with internal security, the DSS should be stopped from going ahead with the investigation. He also said the police as well as other anti-graft agencies should be allowed to get to the root of the scam and bring the culprits to book. Falana said, “It was reported last week that the Nigeria Police Force had commenced investigations into the criminal allegation of the padding of the national budget by some members of the House of Representatives. “Some civil society organisations have also requested the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Commission to wade into the matter. Curiously, the State Security Service (Department of State Service) is alleged to have usurped the statutory duties of the police and the anti graft agencies by taking over the investigation of the padding of the budget. “Based on the illegal decision to take over the investigation the DSS is reported to have sealed off the office of the chairman of the Appropriation Committee of the House of Representatives. “Having regard to the recent activities of the SSS and the clear provisions of the relevant laws on investigation of corruption and other economic and financial crimes the DSS lacks the moral right and legal powers to interfere in the investigation of the criminal allegation of padding of the budget in any manner whatsoever.” He added that “more importantly, by virtue of the provisions of the National Security Agencies Act, the powers of the SSS are strictly limited to the ‘preservation and detection within Nigeria of any crime against the internal security of Nigeria.’ “Since the padding of the national budget is a straight
CLAIMANT to the office of the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff yesterday nullified the clean bill of health issued to Chief Tony Anenih over alleged anti-party activities. The National Caretaker Committee had about two weeks ago cleared Chief Anenih of allegations of anti-party activities in Imo state during the 2015 general elections. The Caretaker Committee also restored Chief Anenih’s membership of the party’s Board of Trustees, BoT. Reacting to the decision of the Caretaker Committee, Modu Sheriff said in a statement signed by one Hon Bernard Mikko that Chief Anenih will not be readmitted into the BoT unless due process is followed. According to Modu Sheriff, “Party members and loyalists will recall that the National Working Committee (NWC) issued a query to Chief Tony Anenih in April 2015 as part of disciplinary procedures for his anti party activities in Imo state during the 2015 General elections in line with Article 57(4) of the PDP Constitution 2012 (as amended). Chief Anenih did not respond to the query but chose to tender a letter of resignation as BoT member. Up till date, the query remains unanswered and his resignation remains valid. “Any effort to re-admit the chief will have to follow due process which is well known to all party members . If the chief is desirous of returning as member of the BoT, he should re-apply to the party, with his response to the pending query for consideration. Party members are hereby assured that no individual or group will be prejudiced in the enforcement of discipline and the application of the rule of law.” Before the emergence of Modu Sheriff the then National Working Committee, NWC, of the party had accused Anenih of anti-party activities in Imo State during the last presidential and state elections and in a letter dated May 19, 2015, signed by then PDP National Secretary, Prof. Wale Oladipo, requested him to appear before it, a summon which he shunned before he voluntarily relinquished the BoT chairmanship position. But, the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee, in a letter dated July 22, and addressed to Anenih, informed him of the party’s withdrawal of the summon notice. The letter, signed by the
Secretary to the committee, Senator Ben Obi, read in part: “With a view, to finally clearing all issues relating to this matter and based on your request to meet with the current Caretaker Committee, and the agreed meeting which took place on July 13, 2016, the Committee Chairman, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, wishes to thank you for appearing before it to finally clear all issues relating to this matter. “Having heard from you, and made some consultations, the Caretaker Committee has reviewed the whole episode and decided to withdraw the said letter from and by the defunct National Working Committee.” Anenih, who commended the PDP National Caretaker Committee for its steps to correct the injustice meted to me by the immediate past NWC, said it was “a consequence of this blatant unfairness and other similarly disappointing developments following the loss of our party in the presidential election, that I was compelled to resign from office by the leadership of the party.” He also commended the committee for giving him the opportunity to explain himself with respect to the issue as well as the process it has embarked upon to reposition the party.
forward case of economic crime which is not concerned with the internal security of the nation the SSS should not play into the soiled hands of the criminal suspects in the House of Representatives as they may later turn round to challenge the legal validity of any criminal charge arising from a faulty investigation report.
“The SSS should be called to order as the nation cannot afford to bungle the investigation of the highly placed politically exposed persons involved in the padding of the budget. In the light of the foregoing, the Police and the anti graft agencies should be allowed to get to their job,” Falana averred.