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Budget padding: Ningi faces suspension

Disowned by more northern senators I stand by my claims – Bauchi Senator Barring any last-minute developments, Senator Abdul Ningi (PDP, Bauchi Central) is expected…

  • Disowned by more northern senators
  • I stand by my claims – Bauchi Senator

Barring any last-minute developments, Senator Abdul Ningi (PDP, Bauchi Central) is expected to face disciplinary actions over his budget padding allegation as the Senate resumes plenary today, multiple sources told Daily Trust.

Ningi has been in the news since Saturday when he alleged in an interview on the BBC Hausa Service that the national budget for the 2024 fiscal year was padded to the tune of N3 trillion, an allegation that has been denied by both the leadership of the Senate, the presidency, and several senators belonging to the Northern Senators Forum, which he chairs.

Several sources that spoke with Daily Trust on condition of anonymity cited the cases of Senator Ali Ndume and Rep. Abdulmumin Jibrin Kofa, who were both suspended by the Senate and House of Representatives in the 8th Assembly for similar issues.

It could be recalled that Ndume was suspended for going against the then leadership of the Senate by calling for an investigation into allegations of importing a bulletproof range rover with fake documents involving then Senate President Bukola Saraki.

Kofa, a lawmaker from Kano State and former Chairman of the Appropriations Committee who had also gained national limelight for raising an allegation of budget padding, was suspended for 180 legislative days.

But the embattled senator has said he was not afraid of suspension or any disciplinary action that might be taken against him, clarifying that he was not speaking on behalf of the Northern Senators Forum but that he stood by all the claims he made in the interview.

Charge him for criminal misinformation – Senator Ibrahim

Reacting yesterday to Senator Ningi’s allegation, Senator Jimoh Ibrahim (APC Ondo South), during a press conference at the National Assembly complex, asked the Senate and federal government to charge Ningi with criminal misinformation capable of causing a breach of peace.

He said the allegation has painted the Senators black and caused them pain, and he asked the Inspector-General of Police to probe the allegations with a view to bringing Ningi to justice.

He said, “The President of Nigeria cannot operate two budgets. My distinguished brother, Senator Ningi, gave this false information, and it is unacceptable. It is causing uncomfortable pain to our integrity and family.”

He said if the Senate does not act decisively on the allegations within seven days, he would write to the IGP to initiate an investigation, and if that also does not receive the urgency required, he would approach the court to get an order of mandamus to compel the police to act in accordance with the law.

“It is a matter of urgency for the federal government to charge Senator Ningi in court for criminal misinformation and conduct capable of causing a breach of peace,” he added.

7 more Northern senators disown claim, back Tinubu

Also, seven senators from the 19 states in the North have disassociated themselves from the claims by Senator Ningi.

Reacting in a joint statement on Monday in Abuja, the Senators Aminu Iyal Abbas (Adamawa), Ibrahim Bomai (Borno), Abdulaziz Yar’adu (Katsina), Lawal Adamu Usman (Kaduna), Jibrin Isah (Kogi), Diket Plang (Plateau), and Saliu Mistapha (Kwara) disowned Ningi’s submission and backed President Bola Tinubu’s administration.

Their statement comes after three other senators from the northern zone—Steve Sunday Karimi (Kogi), Titus Tartenger Zam (Benue), and Kaka Sheu (Borno)—also disowned Ningi on Sunday, saying his position does not represent the views of the northern senators.

The joint statement on Monday reads in part, “We, the undersigned, on behalf of the Senators from the 19 Northern States and the FCT, under the aegis of the Northern Senators Forum (NSF), hereby state that Senator Ahmed Abdul Ningi of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bauchi Central Senatorial District, who also happens to be the chairman of our forum, was on his own in the claims he made on the BBC Hausa Service on the 2024 budget.

“As such, the view he expressed was his personal opinion and sentiment and was unfortunately skewed, incorrect, and misleading. That there was never a time where we held a meeting and mandated Senator Ningi to address the press on the said matter.”

I’m not perturbed; I stand by my words – Ningi

But Ningi, in an interview yesterday, said he was not scared of suspension or sanction of any kind, saying power is transient.

Ningi insisted this time that N3.7 trillion was not captured in the budget debated in the Senate in terms of location, money, and projects.

He said, “When the interview became a national issue, many people thought I was speaking for northern senators. I don’t speak on behalf of northern senators, except when I am asked to do so. I spoke for myself.

“If it is the cross I have to carry, I will carry it.” I am not afraid of anything! I believe in one God, and I believe power is transient. I believe what we are doing, all of us, is temporary. I am not scared of any issue like suspension,” he said.

“Some of our colleagues were removed; they are living their lives. If, because I said what I said, I will be suspended, so be it. It will be an honour.

“I don’t want people to castigate them (the Northern Senators). I want people to castigate me as a leader. I want to make sure that whatever happens, let it happen to me.,” he added.

But challenging him, Senator Sunday Steve Karimi told Ningi to at least fear God and say the truth, even if he was not afraid of suspension as stated.

“I must say that Senator Ningi is just trying to engage in red-herring and sow the seed of institutional anarchy. As a ranking lawmaker, he should know that the organization of first-line charge items is not lined up on the budget,” he said.

Karimi added that “no Northern Senator contributed any money to pay any consultant, so where did Senator Ningi get the N30 million he paid the consultant? Senator Ningi should tell Nigerians the source of the N30m he paid to the consultants who have not even delivered on their consultancy since he is talking about transparency.”

 

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