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Alleged budget padding: PDP backs Ningi, demands Akpabio’s resignation

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is calling for an independent investigation into the alleged insertion of N3.7 trillion into the 2024 budget for non-existent projects while also demanding that the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, step aside immediately to ensure a fair investigation.

National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Hon. Debo Ologunagba, made the party’s position public in Abuja on Wednesday.

He said the Party also demands that Senator Akpabio immediately report to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over his pending case of alleged looting of N108 billion belonging to the people of Akwa Ibom State under his watch as Governor.

Ologunagba said, “Furthermore, the Senate President should speak out on the reported N86 billion contract scam in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) during his tenure as the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.

“The PDP firmly condemns the suspension of Senator Abdul Ningi by the All Progressives Congress (APC) leadership in the Senate without a detailed inquiry into the issue of budget padding, which he raised.

“The suspension of Senator Ningi is apparently a desperate move to suppress investigation, conceal and sweep the facts under the carpet.

“Moreover, the frustration of investigation by the APC Senate leadership further confirms PDP’s repeated alert that prominent APC officials in the National Assembly and a top official in the Presidency have been using ministers and other government functionaries to siphon budgeted funds from the national coffers.

“We ask, why did the APC leadership in the Senate not refer the matter to the appropriate Senate Standing Committee for an open investigation in line with the extant Rules of the Senate? What is the APC Senate leadership afraid of and what is it hiding from Nigerians?

“It is even more absurd that instead of recusing himself, the Senate President sat as a judge in the matter; a situation that has the capacity to bring the institution of the Senate to further public disrepute.

“This is especially as the issues at hand heavily border on alleged gross misconduct and criminal betrayal of public trust which are serious offenses under our laws.

“Nigerians can now see why the APC leadership in the National Assembly, especially in the Senate continues to condone the unbridled looting of public resources including funds meant for palliatives for poor and vulnerable citizens.

“This apparent inclination towards covering up sleaze in the polity is already pitching the institution of the Senate against Nigerians who are demanding for answers on the matter. Of course, the widely condemned suspension of Senator Ningi does not provide answers to the budget padding allegation.”

The PDP Spokesperson further said, “It is indeed unfortunate and a huge smear on the image of the Senate, as the highest lawmaking and probity Institution in the country, that its Presiding Officer has found himself in a quagmire of alleged sleaze and betrayal of public trust.

“Our Party therefore stands with Senator Ningi for his courage in seeking probity and accountability in the polity.

“What Nigerians expect at this moment is for the Senate President to come clean by stepping aside, allowing for an independent investigation into the budget padding allegation as well as clearing his name at the EFCC over alleged looting of N108 billion and N86 billion under his watch as Governor of Akwa Ibom State and Minister of Niger Delta Affairs respectively.”

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