Nigeria : EFCC Set to Quiz Bankole

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is now set to quiz Speaker Dimeji Bankole of the House of Representatives, possibly next week, the eve of his departure from office over the controversial N10 billion loan allegedly taken by the leadership of the House.

Some members had accused the House leadership of taking the loan without the authority of the House. An NGO-Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, followed it up by submitting a petition to this effect to the EFCC.

Saturday Vanguard gathered last night that the Commission had already commenced work on the petition and “may invite the Speaker next week for questioning.”

“Of course, there are two other petitions against him with us on which he will need to throw light,” an EFCC source said. One of these is the purchase of cars at N2.3 billion by the leadership of the House and the other is on the N9 billion infrastructure budgetary allocation.

SERAP in its 12 May, 2011 petition had said: “The leadership of the House of Representatives took out a N10bn loan allegedly without consultation with the members. The money is reportedly missing or cannot be accounted for. As a result, members’ remunerations remain unpaid.

“The official bank of the House, United Bank for Africa, had reportedly withheld the second quarter allocation of all 360 members of the House and the emolument of the 11 re-admitted legislators owing to the indebtedness.

Some members of the House interviewed by SERAP said that they were told by the bank where the salaries of members were domiciled that the money for House of Representatives allowances had been paid by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), but because the House was indebted to the bank, it refused to pay the members’ entitlements. It is also alleged that some principal officers of the House collected the loans without the consent of members.

SERAP is seriously concerned that the fresh allegations are coming against the background of previous allegations of corruption including in the purchase of vehicles at N2.3b by the House of Representatives in 2008.

“We are seriously concerned that the above allegations constitute grave breaches of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Act of 2000; the Public Procurement Act 2007, and the UN Convention against Corruption which Nigeria has ratified. Specifically, the UN Convention against Corruption requires states parties, including Nigeria, to promote integrity, accountability and proper management of public affairs.

Moreover, states parties must take measures to preserve the integrity of accounting books, records, financial statements or other documents related to public expenditure and revenue, and to prevent the falsification of such documents.

The Convention also prohibits the abuse of functions or position, and imposes clear obligations on Nigeria to investigate allegations of corruption such as the present one; prosecute suspected perpetrators and ensure return and repatriation of proceeds of corruption.”

It asked the Commission to:

  • “Fully and transparently investigate the allegations of corruption highlighted above, and to make public the stage of its investigation of the allegation of corruption in the N10bn loan obtained by the leadership of the House of Representatives.
  • “Make public the findings of its investigation into the fresh allegations, and all the previous allegations of corruption in the House of Representatives
  • “Ensure the recovery of any money that is the subject of corruption, and ensure that those suspected to be responsible are brought to justice.”

However, a source close to the House of Representatives told Saturday Vanguard that those raising hell over the N10 billion were not being sincere.

He said: “the truth is that the entire House resolved, when there was a delay in approving the 2011 budget for the House to raise the loan pending when the approval would come, and the loan repaid.

“So it is strange that some people who were part of the decision are now portraying the Speaker in bad light. The facts are there.”

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