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OPINION-Illegal Police Probe Of Padding Of The 2016 Budget Bill: Dogara Versus Dogari Policing

OPINION-Illegal Police Probe Of Padding Of The 2016 Budget Bill: Dogara Versus Dogari Policing

The emergence of Acting Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Kpokum Idris may have unveiled a new dogari policing for Nigeria. That is to say that the primitive Hausa-Fulani policing methods specializing in collection of taxes, guarding Emir palaces and arresting and jailing tax defaulters and others considered by Emirs as Emirate enemies, all according to whims and caprices of the Emirs, may have been brought to the fore by the Acting IGP, with two major instances being the reckless abandon with which the Acting IGP has ordered his personnel to flood Nigerian roads and retire at every evening with bagfuls of officially robbed naira notes; and the rush and speed with which he set up a five-man criminal probe panel to selectively and illegally investigate the House Speaker, Yakubu Dogara over a clearly non-criminal conduct correctly called “Padding of the 2016 Budget Bill”; leaving behind other partakers, aiders and abetters. The action of the Acting IGP is a height of trial by ordeal and selective application of justice.

By the summary account of the Black’s Law Dictionary, 9th Edition (2009), trial by ordeal is a judgment of man passed on his fellow man without recourse to written law and principles of the rule of law including fair hearing. This is substantially, if not totally derived from hearsay, unsubstantiated and unverified accusation(s). By the plain language of Section 36 (8) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 under right to fair hearing, no person shall be held to be guilty of a criminal offence on account of any act or omission that did not at the time it took place, constitute an offence, and no penalty shall be imposed for any criminal offence heavier than the penalty in force at the time the offence was committed. Also by the plain language of Section 36 (11) of the same Constitution, subject as otherwise provided by this Constitution, a person shall not be convicted of any criminal offence unless that offence is defined and penalty therefore is prescribed in a written law, such as an Act of the National Assembly or a Law of a State.

Further, for a crime to be committed in Nigeria, it must be composed of guilty act (actus reus) and guilty mind (mens rea); with exceptions being strict and statutory liability offences (i.e. sanitary, utility bills and traffic offences). A crime mandatorily requiring police investigative and prosecutorial involvement is not a crime unless it is mandatorily composed of seven elements of crime; namely: actus reus, mens rea, legality, harm, causation, concurrence and punishment. Conditional Defences to Crime, particularly crimes against persons, property and collective security crimes; are duress, underage, insanity, entrapment, self defense and necessity. A conduct can be unethical, yet it does not make it a crime unless it is criminalized as a code-crime with prescribed penalty; usually under mala prohibita (a conduct defined as a crime by a given society or political territory, or part of it) or mala inse (codified crime bearing universal application).

It is therefore the observation of the leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety) that selective justice has risen to an apogee in Nigeria and trial by ordeal justice system fully returned. Recourse to rule of law and due process is already nailed and crucified. Fundamental issues of extreme public and national importance dominant in criminal justice, economy, security and political sectors are recklessly and brazenly brushed aside for issues of acutely infinitesimal relevance which now dominate the national and daily discourse. The latter include Aisha Buhari’s trip to USA, Ekweremadu must go and Senate Rule 25 forgery campaign, Budget Padding and Dogara must go campaign, Okezie Ikpeazu ousting campaign, to mention but a few.

Sadly, as much as 140 unarmed and defenceless youths of the Igbo-Nigeria extraction were massacred in Onitsha, Nkpor and Asaba on 30th of May 2016 by soldiers of the Onitsha Military Cantonment under the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army and joined by personnel of the Nigerian Navel and Nigeria Police Force. As if that was not enough, over 120 of them were abominably and violently buried in secret mass graves located inside Onitsha Military Cantonment and within Airport area in Asaba on 2nd and 21st June 2016, respectively; yet no State controlled or independent television outfit in Nigeria has empanelled any discussion forum on same till date. As we speak, no single perpetrator has been arrested and put on trial by the Nigeria Police Force led by Acting IGP, Ibrahim Idris.

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As much as 809 unarmed and celebrant members of Shiite Muslim movement were either massacred or made to disappear till date in Zaria by the Nigerian Army on 12th and 14th of December 2015. In all these, all the frontline media, activist lawyers and social advocacy institutions including the National Human Rights Commission have gone chronically deaf and dumb; with exception being a conscientious fraction such as the likes of Barristers Ebun Olu Adegboruwa and Femi Fani-Kayode; Governor Peter Fayose of Ekiti State, the authorities of the Galaxy TV and leading Nigerian Online Media mostly of Southeast and South-south domination.

Though our advocacy attention is too busy to be occupied by national irrelevancies such as the so called Budget Padding, but we feel deeply pained watching the country’s social institutions and values being bastardized, corrupted and destroyed on daily basis and with reckless abandon by those who ought to be the custodians of the country’s public morality, decency and uprightness, especially when some of them go by the hallowed titles of their excellencies, their lordships, senior learned counsels, senior comrades, etc.

Legally and criminologically speaking, we are not in the know of any criminal law in Nigeria where act of Padding of a Budget Bill is unambiguously defined as a criminal offence with prescribed penalty or penalties; yet the Acting Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Kpokum Idris has rushed and hurriedly set up a five-man criminal investigative panel, headed by AIG Amodu Ali to selectively and illegally investigate the House Speaker, Yakubu Dogara and about four others. The Presidency has consistently targeted the House Speaker, the Senate President and the Deputy Senate President for removal at all costs following their independent and popular emergence in June 2015 as principal leaders of the 8th National Assembly of Nigeria; upon which the Presidency has labeled them forgers of Senate (National Assembly) Rule 25 of 2015. The Senate President and the Deputy Senate President are presently being prosecuted by the Presidency for “forgery”.

The constitutional and statutory powers under which the Acting IGP empanelled the criminal probe team to investigate the alleged Padding of 2016 Budget Bill, unknown in Nigeria as a criminal offence; are yet to be located in any law in Nigeria. As the Acting IGP is busy pursuing shadows and engaging in acts clearly outside the law, his personnel in their thousands deployed on Nigerian roads, particularly in the Southern part of the country; are busy robbing motorists and other road users with reckless abandon through extortion at gunpoint of N50.00 and N100.00 note per motorist and road user. Through the entrenched culture of returns, the Acting IGP and his operational sub commanders are again smiling to the bank vicariously on daily basis; which is why we invited and still invite all Nigerians and members of the international community to make trips to Nigerian roads across the country so as to assess the effects of the Buhari administration’s anti corruption on Nigeria and Nigerians.

For the purpose of setting the records straight, Budget Padding is technically a practice that some people use in business or government budget proposal when submitting a budget for executive management or governmental executive or legislative approval for the purpose of adding, subtracting, increasing or reducing the projected expenditures or projects. It is commonly done in government and legislatively, when a budget is yet to be signed into law by the legislature and the executive. Executive approval of a budget is sealed when a legislatively approved budget bill is signed into law by the president or the governor and legislative budget approval is secured when it is legislatively passed by the National Assembly or a House of Assembly of a State with required yes voice votes.

Unethically speaking, legislative and executive arms in Nigeria have been caught in the web of Budget Padding over the years. This they have consistently done by preparing and approving over-bloated budgets containing excessive fiscal votes for overheads and frivolous allowances for themselves including the so called security votes; with most of their funding sourced from borrowings.

The executive arm had steadily engaged in spurious spending spree leading to use of retroactive supplementary budgets for the purpose of legitimizing the spent funds. The legislative arm had consistently connived with the executive in the perpetration of the unethical fiscal conduct under reference. The extra budgetary spending by the executive with retroactive supplementary cementation as well as incomplete implementation of the approved budgets particularly the capital budgets is clearly a criminal offence and act of corruption than padding of a budget bill.

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Technically speaking and by law, budget bill padding process is not a crime, though its intents may constitute unethical conduct, but not a crime, except codified as crime. But any altering done in the budget after it has been legislatively and executively passed into law are expressly a crime and an act of corruption; which is why a process of supplementary budget was created and conventionalized. The supplementary budget is created for three reasons: (a) to reduce the originally projected projects or expenditures on account of decline in revenue targets, (b) to increase originally projected revenues or projects on account of increase in projected revenues, and (c) to provide for emergency spending and situations in the event of eruption of war or natural disasters.

Sadly, these established credible budgetary processes have consistently been observed in gross breach by the successive military and civilian governments in Nigeria and their legislative or pseudo legislative arms since 1997, which was the last time Nigeria recorded credible budget with over 47Billion surplus under the Abacha military regime. We have already challenged the authorities of the Nigeria Police Force, the EFCC, the ICPC and Office of the Attorney General of the Federation to show prove where in the country’s written criminal laws it is clearly stated that act of padding a budget bill (act done before the legislative and executive passage of the budget bill into law) is a criminal offence punishable under a prescribed penalty or penalties. The authorities are again called upon to educate all Nigerians and members of the international community on the criminality or otherwise of the subject matter.

Where they continue to fail in this regard, then it will be totally safe to submit that they have cemented our informed submission that selective justice and trial by ordeal is back and on rampage in Nigeria. It will further mean that Acting IGP, Ibrahim Idris acted unconstitutionally, ultra vires and despicably by ordering the criminal probe outside the law and his constitutional and statutory powers.

However, if the authorities under reference are able to prove to all Nigerians and members of the international community that padding of a budget bill is a crime in Nigeria, then the instant case has consumed both the executive and legislative arms in the country, not just the House Speaker and about four others. That is to say that President Muhammadu Buhari should be investigated, having aided and abetted (i.e. signed the budget into law when he knew that it was legislatively “padded”). Other executive accomplices are the Minister for Finance, the Accountant General of the Federation and the Attorney General of the Federation, while the legislative culprits are the Senate President, the House Speaker, the Clerk of the National Assembly and the Chairmen of the Senate and the House Committees on Finance and Appropriation.

Finally, the Executive Arm of Government in Nigeria led by President Muhammadu Buhari and its open and secret police (DSS and NPF) are hereby called upon to steer clear of the National Assembly and its principal leaderships particularly the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and the House Speaker, Yakubu Dogara. That is to say that the leaderships of the National Assembly of Nigeria must be left alone by the Presidency of Gen Muhammadu Buhari and be allowed to serve Nigerians legislatively. The Executive Arm must also respect the hallowed principles of separation of powers, checks and balances and independence of the legislature and allow the law to take its full course in the event any of them is found wanting under the laws of the land.

Signed:

For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety)

Emeka Umeagbalasi(Criminologist & Graduate of Security Studies)

Board Chairman

Mobile Line: +2348174090052

Email: [email protected], [email protected]

Website: www.intersociety-ng.org

Obianuju Igboeli, Esq., (LLB, BL)

Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program

Mobile Line: +2348034186332

Email: [email protected]