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Budget padding: Refer allegations to EFCC, ICPC, reinstate whistleblower Ningi, SERAP tells Akpabio



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 Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Senate President Mr Godswill Akpabio to “urgently refer the allegations that lawmakers padded the 2024 budget by irregularly inserting projects worth N3.7 trillion to appropriate anti-corruption agencies for investigation and prosecution.”

SERAP urged him “to immediately reinstate whistleblower Abdul Ningi who was recently suspended from the Senate over his allegations that the lawmakers padded the 2024 budget by irregularly inserting projects worth N3.7 trillion.”

SERAP also urged him “to make a public commitment to discontinue the patently unlawful constituency projects in the next budget cycle.”

In the letter dated 16 March 2024 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “Referring these allegations to appropriate anticorruption agencies would be consistent with the lawmakers’ oath of office and the letter and spirit of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended].”

SERAP said, “What Senator Ningi has done is a positive act of good citizenship. No whistleblower should ever be penalised simply for making a public interest disclosure.”

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The letter read in part: “Without inside information, corruption is hard to detect, prevent and combat. Rather than suspending Senator Ningi, the Senate ought to have used his allegations as a trigger for addressing the lingering problem of budget padding and corruption in the implementation of constituency projects.”

“Referring the allegations to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) would improve public trust in the ability of the leadership of the Senate to ensure probity and accountability in the budget process.”

“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel you and the Senate to comply with our requests in the public interest.”

“By exercising strong and effective leadership in this matter, the National Assembly can show Nigerians that the legislative body is a proper and accountable watchdog that represents and protects the public interest, and is able to hold itself to account in the management of public resources.”

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“SERAP is seriously concerned that years of allegations of budget padding and corruption in the implementation of constituency projects have contributed to widespread poverty, underdevelopment and lack of access to public goods and services.”


“The National Assembly has a constitutional responsibility to combat corruption, waste and abuse in its own spending if it is to effectively exercise its oversight functions and hold the government to account.”

“Senator Ningi is a whistleblower, who is protected under article 33 of the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party. Senator Ningi is a whistleblower because of his public interest disclosures on alleged budget padding and corruption in the Senate in the context of carrying out his work as Senator.”

“Suspension of Senator Ningi by the Senate followed a seriously flawed process and it amounts to retaliation. Senator Ningi’s status as a whistleblower is not diminished even if the perceived threat to the public interest has not materialised, since he would seem to have reasonable grounds to believe in the accuracy of the allegations of budget padding and corruption in the Senate.”