The Senate, yesterday, alleged that the Nigeria Police had stolen all documents relating to the processing and passage of the 2017 Appropriation Bill, urging Nigerians to hold the Force responsible for delay in the passage of the bill.
The Senate also directed the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to as a matter of urgency, return the documents and all electronic gadgets, including computers containing the budget files, which were taken away from the residence of the chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Danjuma Goje.
This was as the chamber set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the invasion of the Abuja residence of Goje, by the Police last week Thursday. The upper chamber further directed the same committee to investigate the alleged assassination attempt on the Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Dino Melaye.
On the budget, the Senate decided to heap the blame of its failure to pass the budget as earlier scheduled on the Police, following the point of order raised by Goje, alerting the chamber that his residence was raided last week by the Police.
Goje also told the apex legislative chamber that the Police took away files and laptop containing the 2017 budget documents, in addition to carting away monies in naira, dollar and other currencies.
While adopting the presentation made by Goje pertaining to the invasion of his residence last week, the Senate asked the Police to tender public apology to the National Assembly and also return all the allegedly stolen documents to enable the chamber to continue with work on the budget.
The President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, told the lawmakers that the Police had informed the Committee on Police Affairs that the operation in Goje’s house was carried out based on wrong information from a whistle blower.
However, Saraki insisted that the Senate would not accept the excuse as he declared that an immediate official explanation must be made to the Red Chamber on the operation.
The members of the ad hoc committee set up to investigate the invasion include Senators Jibrin Barau (APC, Kano State), Isa Misau (APC, Bauchi State), Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu), David Umoru (APC, Niger State) and Foster Ogola (PDP, Bayelsa West).
In his submission to the Senate, Goje said the policemen took N18 million in addition to $19,000, 4,000 Saudi Riyadh, 18 files and a laptop which contained budget documents from his house during the operation.
He lamented that his family members and himself were thoroughly traumatized in the operation he said lasted for four hours while he was away trying to put reports of the budget together at the National Assembly.
He said: “In addition, they also took my laptop. And to make matters worse, they took 18 files from my office. I am so traumatized now and I don’t know which files are missing, which files are available now. Some of these files have to do with the work I am doing, that is the budget.
“Like I told you, we were holding a meeting on the budget when they came last Thursday.
So from Thursday till now, we have not been able to meet because some of the papers are no longer available; many of us are traumatized, my house as a politician is a beehive of activities; people are coming from all over the country to sympathise with me.
I have no time to sit and from today we are trying to start sitting again as appropriations committee to see what we can do with the budget.
“I want to apologise to my colleagues that we could not keep to the timetable you gave us to lay the budget yesterday (Tuesday) and to get it passed today (Wednesday); and I think it is not our own fault, it is the fault of the police because the police interfered with the whole of the budget process and I hope Nigerians will not turn out to blackmail the National Assembly because the process were truncated by the police.”
Goje also told the Senate that the Police had not contacted him to explain why his house was invaded; pointing out that he was not yet in the know of the reason behind the action of the Police.
Saraki insisted that the Police must give explanations on why it carried out the act without any convincing reasons.
He said: “This matter is a very serious matter as Senator Goje has said; it is now over five days with no statement or comments from the police to tell us why this raid was done or to tell us where these files are which are very important in the appropriation process.
“Sadly, I must tell you distinguished senators, that, informally the chairman of the police committee told me this morning that the police are saying that it is something to do with whistle blower.
If the whistle blower misled them, I think the police should apologise not only to him, but to the entire country.”
The Inspector General of Police reportedly visited the Deputy President of the Senate, Dr. Ike Ekweremadu and the Senate leader, Ahmad Lawan, to seek peaceful resolution to the impasse between his establishment and the apex chamber.
A source within the Senate told New Telegraph that the IGP had to visit Ekweremadu and Lawan because Saraki refused to see him, in retaliation for his refusal to pick his calls when his men invaded Goje’s house in Abuja.
Also, the House of Representatives yesterday issued a 24-hour ultimatum to Idris to return documents relating to the 2017 appropriation bill seized in Goje’s house.
The lower chamber warned that failure to return the documents would slow down the early passage of the 2017 budget. This followed the adoption of a motion brought by Hon. Abubakar Ahmad Yunusa (APC, Gombe) on the need to check the excesses of security agents with regard to invasion of residences of law abiding citizens.
In adopting the motion, the House resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to invite Idris to appear before it to explain what warranted the invasion of the residences of law abiding citizens.
Similarly, the House mandated its Committee on National Intelligence to investigate the source and actual ownership of the N13 billion recovered from a residential apartment in Lagos by personnel of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
This decision was sequel to a motion on the need to investigate the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) over the N13 billion recovered from an apartment at Osborne Towers in Ikoyi moved by Hon. Babatunde Kolawole.