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Contrary to a claim by Amnesty International (AI) that the Presidency has widened its security votes’ net, there is no line item classified as Security Vote in the State House budget in the N9.1 trillion 2018 Appropriation Act. The international watchdog got its facts wrong, Budget & National Planning Minister Udoma Udo Udoma, said during the budget breakdown in Abuja yesterday, reports Nduka Chiejina.

There is no provision for Presidential Villa securityin this year’s budget, the Budget and National Planning Minister Udoma Udo Udoma  said yesterday.

Addressing reporters during the breakdown of the 2018 Budget after President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Appropriation Bill into law on Wednesday, Senator Udoma denied claims that the Presidency was siphoning money out of the system using security votes.

“Owing to the growing number of internal security issues, a provision of N75 billion was made for these exercises in the Service-wide votes, not State House vote, in 2018,” Udoma said.

The minister denied an Amnesty International (AI) report titled “Camouflaged cash: How ‘Security Votes’ fuel corruption in Nigeria”, which ”indicated, in part, that the Presidency is not only appropriating but “has increased the number of security votes tucked into the Federal Budget in the last two years.”

In a response to reporters’ questions during the briefing in Abuja, the minister said: “There is no line item as Security vote in the State House Budget.”

According to him, “provisions for security-related matters are contained in the detailed Budgets of the Ministry of Defence, Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Department of State Security (DSS) etc.”

“There are also provisions for military interventions in the Northeast (insurgency) – Operation Lafiya Dole, as well as other specific operations of the Armed forces such as Operation Python DanceOperation Crocodile Smile and very recently and Operation Cat Race, among others”, Udoma said.

AI defines security votes as “budgeted funds provided to certain federal, state and local government officials to spend at their discretion.. They are budgeted separately from planned security expenditures, such as personnel salaries, allowances, equipment, training and operational expenses.”

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