2019: APC Senators Face-off Over 'Misappropriated' N1.3 Trillion
It was Abiodun Olujimi, a Senator from Ekiti State, that caused the trouble.
Plenary had just started on Tuesday at the Senate when she dropped the bombshell.
She had raised concerns over how it turned out that only two persons were in charge of a 1.3 trillion Naira ($3.5 billion) budget recovery fund being used by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
According to her, this fund is too huge for two people to manage.
"Right now Mr President (Dr. Bukola Saraki) the $1.3 trillion Naira is managed by just two and this is too huge to be managed without appropriation without any recourse to any known law of the land," she said, indirectly questioning how the funds have been used.
This issue then resulted in some other issues and subtle indictments of misappropriation set in.
After the lady put forward her worries, Senator Saraki asked the Committee on Downstream to look into the issue, but Senator Ali Ndume threw the first arrow at the committee.
He raised concerns on the integrity of the committee, emphasising that there was no way such huge amount of money could be stashed somewhere without members of the committee knowing.
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"I think the committee, I don’t want to be too hard on them, is not doing its oversight and when all these things happen, the committee is supposed to know.
"So I am suggesting that Marafa, being the chairman of that committee, should be out of this and the committee members too.
"The Senate leader and others members of the Senate should look at this thing objectively because by the time you have such amount of money stashed somewhere, it calls for more question.
"As distinguished Senator Bukar Abba said, not me, the committee might be compromised," he said.
After he echoed this subtle indictment, Senator Kabir Marafa, fired back.
Citing order 53, (7,8), he said that Senator Ndume was out of order to indict other Senators.
"No Senator shall input improper motive to another senator.
"I have no problem if we even ask the Committee of Downstream to step aside totally, or if it is his wish for the committee of downstream to be dissolved today.
"I have no problem with that.
"I equally have no offence with the submission of Senator Ali Ndume.
"But I have serious exception when he said that the committee compromised.
"For somebody to come out and say, with due respect, that I am managing subsidy programme, that is incorrect.
"Let all these committees including the ones held by some people before now be suggested to scrutiny, I have no problem with that but for this Senate to now leave another ad-hoc committee to look into the issue of subsidy, it is like some people are looking for campaign money and I don’t think that is the best way to get it," he said.
After Senator Marafa expressed his grievance, the Senate President also found fault in his statement.
"Senator Marafa listen to yourself. You decided to choose the same offensive words against your colleague.
"You have to first withdrawn what you have just said," Saraki demanded.
After Senator Marafa withdrew the statement, Senator Ndume further cleared the air on his earlier statement, saying he had respect for every Senator.
"The suggestion was a very honest one.
"The offence should go to my senior, Senator Bukar Abba.
"When I was speaking Senator Bukar Abba said the committee might have been compromised and I reported the same. I apologise," he said.
After his comments, another member of the Committee on Downstream, Senator Ahmad Lawan, announced his withdrawal, saying his integrity would not be compromised.
"I am using my privilege to decline to serve on that committee.
"I hold my integrity very dearly. I have worked for it over the years. I don’t want it damaged. Therefore I decline" he said.
But the Senate leadership insisted that he must be part of the committee, with Saraki saying he would not excuse himself from the rule of leadership.
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