The Secretariat of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation remained shut on Tuesday, 18 days after operatives of the Department of State Services sealed it over the budget padding crisis
The DSS operatives had taken over the secretariat on July 30, barring workers from entering the office.
They had arrived there a day after a former Chairman of the House Appropriation Committee, Abddulmumin Jibrin, visited the DSS’ headquarters in Abuja to submit a petition, in which he accused the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, and three other principal officers of padding the 2016 budget.
A member of staff of the secretariat, who confided in The PUNCH, said the DSS operatives had not allowed anybody to enter the office.
“They (DSS operatives) are still at the secretariat. The reason they give is ‘security,’ but the office remains shut. “They are running shifts all week,” one official told The PUNCH.
Meanwhile, a group, the Faculty of the Initiatives, on Tuesday said it would soon head for court to test various laws on the powers of the National Assembly as part of the public enlightenment on the budget padding controversy
The Dean of the Faculty of the Initiatives, Eseme Eyiboh, who said this at the group’s interactive session with journalists in Abuja, attributed the budget padding controversy to the public perception of the National Assembly.
The Faculty of the Initiatives said this as the Transparency Group in the House of Representatives denied making any contacts with the Governor of Sokoto State, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, to wade into the raging budget ‘padding’ allegations in the Green Chamber of the National.
Explaining plans of the initiatives, Eyiboh stated, “We are going to test these laws not in support of anybody, but to enrich our institutional jurisprudence. We are going to go to court to test these laws. It will help in public enlightenment and education.”
Eyiboh stated that neither Dogara nor Jibrin was a member of the group.
He cited various parts of the constitution relating to the powers of the National Assembly including sections 59 (4); 80 and 81 (4), saying they were intended to strengthen the separation of powers as well as create checks and balances.
Eyiboh, however, noted that some people had alleged that the budget was tampered with after it had been passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the President.
He stated that under the Authentication Act 2004, it was only the Clerk of the National Assembly that could determine if the budget was tampered with.
Eyiboh said President Muhammadu Buhari did well by engaging the National Assembly when the budget was first sent to him.
Appealing to the media, he said the controversy over budget padding should be taken beyond Dogara and Jibrin.
Meanwhile, a vocal member of the TG, Mr. Baballe Bashir, who spoke with The PUNCH in Abuja, dismissed speculations that Tambuwal contacted the group and sought to mediate in the budget crisis.
The TG is made up of lawmakers demanding that the budget process should be transparent and also agreed with the call by Jibrin, that the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, and three other principal officers should resign.
The other three are the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Yussuff Lasun; the Chief Whip, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; and the Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor.