- Anybody indicted will be prosecuted, EFCC declares
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has said that anyone indicted for budget padding would be prosecuted.
The commission made the vow yesterday while receiving a petition from representatives of Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, yesterday that staged a protest to the Lagos zonal office of EFCC, demanding the prosecution of those involved in the budget padding scandal raging in the House of Representatives.
The CSOs expressed dismay that individuals like speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, his deputy, Lasun Yusuf, House minority leader, Leo Ogor, among others fingered in the budget padding allegations had neither been invited, interrogated nor prosecuted.
They said the issue had to do with the tax payers’ money and therefore could not be reduced to an in-house matter or an affair of the party.
Executive directors, Conscience Nigeria and Centre for Public Accountability, Comrades Tosin Adeyanju and Femi Lawson led the peaceful protest after which a petition was presented to the EFCC deputy director (Operations), Mr. Iliyasu Kwarbai, for onward delivery to the acting chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
In the petition, the CSOs said they were disturbed that there was a grand conspiracy to sweep the matter under the carpet despite its enormity.
Protesters carried placards with inscriptions such as ‘Budget Padding: Save Nigeria from Legisla-theives;’ ‘Support the War against Corruption, Probe Our Representa-thieves;’ ‘EFCC, Probe Illegal NASS Allowance,’ among others.
According to the groups, members of the National Assembly continue with the business of padding budgets despite the anti-corruption stand of the current administration.
“It is on record that over the years, the National Assembly has promoted corruption as direct policy, with such an alarming rate of impunity and arrogance being above the law,” they said.
The CSOs said given the volume of corruption that the National Assembly had turned the budget making process to, the EFCC should “embark on a holistic approach to investigate previous allocation of commonwealth under the guise of constituency projects by ensuring that every contract appropriated for and awarded by the National Assembly in the past are duly investigated.”
Kwarbai stated that the commission had received many petitions in respect of the matter from members of the public, adding that the commission was investigating it in Abuja.
He said, “The issue of padding in the National Assembly in which some allegations have been raised against the speaker and some other persons, we are already in receipt of petitions from some other members of the public and investigation is going on in Abuja.”
He added that the “EFCC does not cover any one; whoever is involved will be dealt with strictly according to law. Anybody who is involved in corruption, no matter how highly he or she is, we don’t cover any person. Once we have received a petition, we investigate it and once the person is indicted, we invite the accused and on the case of the budget padding, they will never go free.
“We are very happy that you are here and we are in solidarity with you. We are very happy that you are joining us in the fight against corruption. The fight is not for EFCC
Alone; it is for everybody,” the commission said.