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Budget Padding: Senator suspended in Nigeria; Rights Group kicks



The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday suspended Senator Abdul Ningi for alleging that the sum of 3.7 trillion Naira ( approximately 2 billion US Dollars) was padded into the 2024 budget.

Ningi, from Bauchi Central Senatorial District, was suspended for three months after a long rowdy session in the red chamber.

A member of the Appropriation Committee in the Senate, Jimoh Ibrahim, first moved the motion for Ningi’s suspension for 12 months over allegations of “criminal misinformation and breach of peace in the National Assembly and the country by extension.”

However, other lawmakers like Senator Asuquo Ekpenyong moved for the amendment of the motion by Ibrahim.

Ekpenyong, who is from Cross River South Senatorial District; and Senator Abdulfatai Buhari from Oyo North Senatorial District, prayed for the reduction of the suspension to six and three months respectively.

Senate Majority Leader, Senator Bamidele Opeyemi, who represents Ekiti Central Senatorial District, suggested that Ningi should not given an opportunity to apologize:

“We must never accept any apology from Senator Ningi. It is ridiculous to do so.
He lied deliberately. Mr Senate President, you are occupying that seat 40 years after a South South person occupied it.

“The last time a Southerner was there was during Obasanjo and they were being changed every time. It was only stable when it returned to the north. David Mark spent 8 years, Saraki completed his 4 years, Lawan spent his 4 years.

“Don’t be deceived, the losers of June 2023 Senate President election are still angry. Some have accepted but a few haven’t. They have plotted to remove you before June 2024. That is why you must not allow this deliberate mischief by Ningi to go away. He did it on purpose. He knew he was lying, he set the public against you, he will do it again. We must apply our sanction.”

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Senate President Godswill Akpabio, who described Ningi’s action as grievous, conducted a voice vote during which most of the lawmakers voted in support of Ningi’s suspension for three months.

Meanwhile, Civil Rights Advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has described the suspension as a coordinated cover-up.

HURIWA said the suspension was “hasty and will inevitably be interpreted as a negative sign that the National Assembly that ought to be the bastion of civil democracy is being turned into a secret society since the Senators failed to conduct a publicly advertised probe of the damaging allegations made by the Bauchi state born senator Abdul Ningi.”

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