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Senate Caucuses in war of words over 2016 controversial budget

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Trouble looms in Senate as Unity Forum Senators linked the issue of missing and doctored budget to the ongoing trial of the Embattled Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki at Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

But, in swift reaction, Pro- Saraki senators wondered how anybody can reduce issue of controversies bordering on budgets to the creation of just one person, the Senate President? 

However, the spokesman of anti-Saraki senators, Kabiru Marafa in interview with newsmen stated that the controversies rocking the 2016 budget in the Senate since January are in very logical ways, linked to the pending trial of Saraki at the CCT through the aides of fifth columnists shouting at different times that Budget is missing, budget has been doctored, budget is padded and can no longer be passed as earlier planned.

The Senate had last week Tuesday, mandated its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to investigate Marafa’s alleged offensive remarks against the Senate and by extension , the National Assembly in the said interview where he amongst others, kicked against N4.7billion car purchase plan of the 8th Senate and secrecy of accounts of the entire National Assembly.

In his own reaction on comment from Anti- Saraki senator, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim said, ” The questions that arise from this claim are: were there versions of the budget? Yes, there were. The President himself on January 15, 2016 wrote to admit that there were versions of the budget.

“Also, after the various irregularities pointed out and openly admitted by the Ministers during Budget Defence sessions, the chairmen of the Committees on Appropriation in both Chambers on February 10, 2016 jointly addressed the press that the February 25 date set for the passage of the 2016 budget would not be feasible.

“In fact, it was the House Chairman who first gave the indication to that effect. How is Dr. Saraki now being dragged into it? I think the Press should be wary of people who play politics with almost any issue because they want to be in the news.

On the issue of doctored standing rules allegation, Rafiu said: “These are allegations that are subjects of a litigation that he himself initiated. Is he no longer going to wait for the court verdict?

However, it should be noted that the Standing Order was in place before Dr. Saraki was elected Senate President. It had been there from the Seventh Senate.

“It should be noted that the SP did not initiate the discussion on the floor of the Senate about the statements Senator Marafa made which are alleged to have brought the institution to disrepute.

“Other Senators did. And the SP will not single handedly determine the matter now before the Ethics committee.”

On his part, Marafa on issue of doctored budget said, “Honestly speaking, if I am to comment on the controversy that has been trailing the 2016 budget in the Senate, I will say it is all the work of the 5th columnists there. 

“You remember we woke up after 15 days or also of the receipt of the budget in the National Assembly. We woke up one day and the Senate President just came and said there  is no budget, that the budget is stolen embarrassing everybody, but the following day the Speaker said is not stolen our own is here. 

“Next they said the budget is doctored, next they said the budget is padded, next they said there are discrepancies all over the place we knew how they came into the leadership of the National Assembly or the Senate. 

“Was it a coincidence that the issue of padding and everything just came up after the Supreme Court said go and face your trial? 

“Suddenly we started hearing that we cannot pass the budget as we promised because there are discrepancies and so on and so forth. In a nutshell, all the noise about the budget are all about this issue of corruption trial or CCT trial that is all, no more no less” 

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