Niger Lawmakers Summon Five Commissioners Over Alleged Misappropriation Of Funds

A screengrab taken on March 17, 2021, shows the complex of the Niger State House of Assembly in Minna, the state capital.

 

Five commissioners in Niger State are to appear before the Committees on Finance and Appropriation of the State House of Assembly.

This was the position taken by members of the House on Wednesday at the legislative chamber of the Assembly in Minna, the state capital.

Those asked to appear before the lawmakers were the commissioners of finance, justice, sports, works, and planning.

During the plenary, the lawmakers deliberated on the allegation of misappropriation of funds to the tune of N3 billion purportedly by the commissioners.

A member of the House representing Chanchaga State Constituency, Marafa Guni, had moved the motion which was supported by his colleague from Kontagora I State Constituency, Falalu Bako.

Guni informed the Speaker of the House, Abdullahi Wuse, and others that it was important to have the necessary facts and figures at the disposal of the relevant committees when the commissioners appear before the lawmakers.

He said, “Mr Speaker, the matter of extra-budgetary expenditure is a very sensitive one; this is a matter that has to do with records, facts, and figures.

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“This House does not have any meaningful record that we are going to use to crosscheck the claims of the commissioners when they appear, the best they can do is to give us verbal explanations and verbal explanations are insufficient to solve this problem at hand.”

 

‘A Very Abnormal Year’

“I want to humbly move that first and foremost; these commissioners should be mandated to submit records of their various ministries to this House after which I will want this house to allow its Joint Committee on Appropriation and Finance to interface with these commissioners by way of having time to carefully sit and look at the records one after the other,” the lawmaker added.

A screengrab taken on March 17, 2021, shows the Speaker of the Niger State House of Assembly, Abdullahi Wuse, presiding over a plenary.

 

He also urged the lawmakers to mandate the committees to report back to the House with their findings after the commissioners may have appeared before them.

The motion moved by the lawmaker enjoyed the support of his colleagues and was approved by the Speaker who asked the committees to report back in two weeks.

At the end of the plenary, the Commissioner of Planning in Niger, Mamman Musa, denied the allegations during an interview with reporters at the Assembly complex.

He insisted that the commissioners were ready to present evidence of their expenditures to the committees.

The commissioner said, “The Year 2020 was a very abnormal year. If you recall, we had a passed budget and a revised budget, as a result of dwindling resources because of the effect of COVID-19 on the economy.”

“Of course, we had some priorities resized, and yet, there were issues unprepared for that expenditures had to take place; these are normal things that take place between the executive and legislator and they are normally corrected as provided by the law.

“As far as I am concerned, … that some commissioners have carted away three million is totally untrue; that is not a fact,” he stated.