N630 RENT SCAM: CSO DRAGS SARAKI, DOGARA, OTHERS TO ICPC, POLICE
A coalition of Civil Society organizations on the platform of Citizens Action to Take Back Nigeria (CATBAN), has petitioned the Inspector General of Police and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) over alleged financial theft to the tune of N630 million.
The theft involves Senate President Dr Bukola Saraki, Speaker House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara and their deputies.
The organisation gave seven days ultimatum to arrest and prosecute the National Assembly leaders over the allegation "or Nigerians will be mobilised to effect citizens’ arrest."
The group had earlier made public that the National Assembly leaders allegedly used FCDA as a front under the guise of renting, renovation and furnishing of "fictitious official residences."
In the two separate petitions dated Friday 3rd February, 2017 and addressed to the Inspector General of Police and the ICPC chairman, CATBAN said:
"justice must be served, taxpayers’ money must be returned to the treasury, and everyone involved in this financial crime must be brought to book."
The petition which was signed by the organisation's co-convener Ibrahim Garba Wala, read:
PETITION TO INVESTIGATE, ARREST AND PROSECUTE THE FOUR (4) PRINCIPAL OFFICERS OF OUR NATIONAL ASSEMBLE OVER THEFT OF N630 MILLION THROUGH FEDERAL CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (FCDA)
Citizens Action to Take Back Nigeria (CATBAN) officially writes to demand an immediate investigation, arrest and prosecution of four (4) principal officers of National Assembly over criminal theft of Six Hundred and Thirty Million Naira (N630million) through false pretense at the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA).
CATBAN is an investigative coalition of active and actionable civil society organizations that are ready to defend and fight against corruption and injustice in Nigeria.
In our continued efforts to prevent corruption and assist law enforcement agencies to bring culprits of criminal behavior to justice, CATBAN is hereby notifying you of a huge financial theft, fraud and corruption to the sum of N630,125,499.90 perpetrated by the principal officers of National Assembly in persons of Sen. Bukola Saraki (Senate President), Sen. Ike Ekweremadu (Deputy Senate President), Hon. Yakubu Dogara (Speaker, House of Representatives) & Hon. Yusuf Larsun (Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives) involving the use of Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) as a front under the guise of renting, renovation and furnishing of fictitious official residences.
We thus hereby present details of the allegations as follows:
Sometime in the month of March 2016, the above mentioned four (4) principal officers of National Assembly clandestinely approached management of Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) to provide them with residential accommodation, being a follow up to an orchestrated plan perfected earlier by a loyal agent acting between the National Assembly and FCDA, to steal money through false accommodation request.
To buttress the fact that these plans were perfected before the request, the speed & dispatch used in accepting, approving & disbursing hundreds of millions of naira for the so called residential accommodation was within 48 hours.
The principal officers concerned presented companies that acted both as Estate Agents & Property Owners for the exercise, to which the huge funds were paid to by FCDA.
The companies are:
GOGETIT INVESTMENT LIMITED:
Account Number: 1013452206; Bank: Zenith Bank
Account Signatory: Orkuma Hembe
(Orkuma Hembe is brother to Hon. Herman Hembe, Chairman of the Federal Capital Territory Committee of the House of Representatives)
LEGENDARK CONSULT LIMITED
Account Numbers: 0212119991, 0216710224 • Bank: Guaranty Trust Bank
Account Signatory: Akpoti Felix Otaru
(Felix Akpoti is brother to Natasha Akpoti, and they own Builders Hub)
PITCH GLOBAL SERVICES
Accounts: Domiciled in First Bank & Skye Bank • Account Signatory: Harrison Onyekachi Ogu
BREAK DOWN OF PAYMENT
SEN. BUKOLA SARAKI presented one of his properties acquired since he was Governor of Kwara State, located at No. 48 Lake Chad Crescent, Maitama District, Abuja and received the following sums:
Rent - N113,095,238.00 + N11,904,761.90 (VAT) Furnishing – N67,857,142.86 + N7,142,857.14 (VAT) Total – N199,999,999.90
HON. YAKUBU DOGARA presented one of his properties located at No.9 Persian Gulf Close, off Euphrates Street, Wuse 2, Abuja (recently constructed by A. A. Oil) and received the following sums:
Rent - N72,833,333.32 + N7,666,666. 68 (VAT) Furnishing - N63,146,500.00 + N6,647,000.00 (VAT) Total - N150,293,500.00
• SEN. IKE EKWEREMADU presented no residential property, yet received as follows:
Rent - N90,476,190.76 + N9,525,809.24 (VAT) Furnishing - N45,084,285.72 + N4,745,714.28 (VAT) Total - N149,832,000.00
• HON. YUSUF LARSUN also presented no residential property, yet received as follows:
Rent - N62,428,571.42 + N6,571,428.58 (VAT) Furnishing - N55, 190,476.18 + N5,809,523.82 (VAT) Total - N130,000,000.00
GRAND TOTAL OF PUBLIC FUNDS STOLEN - N630,125,499.90
CONTEXTUALIZING THE THEFT
The National Assembly as an independent arm of Government has all its statutory earnings and allowances properly fixed and spelt out by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) Act, 2002.
This same law gives the National Assembly the power and control over her own budget and expenditure, including payment of all forms of allowances, and according to the RMAFC the remuneration package for political, public and judicial office holders is calculated in relation to the percentages of their annual basic salaries.
For example, each Nigerian Senator receives 150% of his/her annual basic salary as accommodation allowance while each member of our Federal House of Representatives gets same equivalent.
This percentage is also applicable for their furniture allowances yearly.
In view of this, the appropriate accommodation allowance for the Senate President is Three Million, Seven hundred and Twenty Thousand Naira Only (N3,720,000.00) and that of his Deputy is Three Million, Four Hundred and Fifty One Thousand, Five Hundred Naira Only (N3,451,500.00).
In the case of the Speaker of House of Representatives, his accommodation allowance is Three Million, Seven Hundred and Five Thousand Naira (N3,705,000.00) while his deputy is entitled to Three Million, Four Hundred and Thirty Five Thousand naira only (N3,435,000.00).
Our investigation reveals that, in spite the fact that these principal officers collected a total sum of N28, 623,000.00 being their legally approved rent & furniture allowances as stipulated by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) Act & representing 300% of their annual basic salaries, they still went ahead to connive & fraudulently collect a whooping N630, 125,499.90 of taxpayers’ money from FCDA to share, claiming same for rent & furnishing.
As an organization that has sworn to fight graft & instill good governance in public service in Nigeria, we were faced with a difficult question after it emerged from our preliminary investigations that these Principal Officers of the National Assembly impressed it on the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) to provide them with accommodation, knowing fully well that the Monetization Policy prohibits the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) or any agency of government from using taxpayers money to meet up to personal demands of public officers outside the provisions of the law.
The 8th Assembly has since inception collected N150 billion and N120 billion as her annual budgets respectively, through First Line Charge.
In this same budget, monetized provision of accommodation for Principal Officers are categorically stipulated & specified which the Senate President & Speaker collect with no context from anyone.
The Principal Officers of the National Assembly therefore have no excuse whatsoever to go asking for money from FCDA in the name of accommodation.
What they have done is false representation & extortion, in connivance with individuals in the agency, all to enable collection and sharing of “free money”.
What CATBAN has uncovered and presented above is not just a mere case where these principal officers falsely claimed money from FCDA on the guise of seeking official accommodation.
Rather, a clear case of abuse of power, stealing, criminal conspiracy and deceptive use of seeking accommodation as a ploy to enrich themselves with public funds.
DISPELLING CLAIMS OF FALSE PATRIOTISM
Contrary to the seeming humane posturing of Senator Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara, our investigation reveals that the leadership of National Assembly deliberately refused to allow N10 billion meant for the completion of the construction of houses of Principal Officers being handled by Julius Berger to go through the budget because of their ploy to exploit it to their criminal benefit.
The contract was as a courtesy by the FCT Administration to provide official residence for any sitting officer of the legislature, but instead, they cut the allocation to N1 billion in the budget even when they know very well that it cannot in anyway advance the construction work.
This is because they have seen the chance to continue to use the accommodation demand to FCDA as a conduit pipe to loot the treasury. The National Assembly has continued to spend millions of Naira on the rent accommodation and guest houses (too numerous to mention, both in Abuja & Lagos) for the Principal Officers from the budget of the National Assembly, and still go to the FCDA to collect money for same exercise.
1. An open and clinical investigation into the fraud to uncover how such huge amount of money were hurriedly processed and paid within 48 hours.
2. Immediate arrest and prosecution of the four (4) principal officers of the National Assembly by the Nigeria Police Force.
3. Immediate arrest and prosecution of all those involved in the theft at the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA)
4. Unconditional refund of our taxpayers’ money, stolen by these principal officers in connivance with their allies at the FCDA.
We expect that these culprits will be arrested within the next Seven (7) working days, failure to which CATBAN would be left with no option than to believe police needs citizens help to arrest them and as such, we will mobilize Nigerians to occupy the National Assembly and help police arrest them accordingly.
We are here to #TakeBackNigeria
Accept our warmest regards in your robust determination to not only effectively reposition the Nigerian Police Force, but to add real value to this administration in fighting graft & injustice irrespective of people involved.
Yours in National Service,
For: CATBAN Coalition
Ibrahim Garba Wala