Budget padding: Groups protest against Dogara, others at EFCC Lagos office •Call for freezing of Dogara’s accounts •Whoever is involved will not go scotfree, EFCC vows

A coalition of over 30 civil society groups, on Monday, took to the streets of Lagos and onward to state office of Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to protest the lingering budget padding controversy rocking the House of Representatives, calling on the commission to investigate and prosecute the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara and others mentioned to be involved in the budget saga.

The protesters, led by Executive Director, Conscience Nigeria (CN), Comrade Tosin Adeyanju and Comrade Femi Lawson, Executive Director, Centre for Public Accountability, were seen displaying various placards with the inscriptions such as “No immunity for economic criminality, probe budget padding,” “EFCC, probe NASS illegal allowances,” “Save Nigeria from legislative thieves,” among others.

They demanded that the 10 principal members of the House of Representatives fingered in the budget padding ought to be arrested and should not be walking freely on the streets of the country, as they were not above the law.

Comrade Adeyanju, who spoke on behalf of the groups before delivering their petition to EFCC Deputy Director (Operations), Lagos Office, Iliyasu Kwarbai, made the demand.

He also demanded that the bank accounts of Dogara, who superintended over the alleged budget padding be frozen, if the bank accounts of a sitting governor had earlier been frozen on account of alleged fraudulent practice.

Adeyanju said, “He has no immunity. If governor’s accounts are being frozen, I don’t know why Speaker Dogara’s account should be left free.

“These characters must be brought to book. This is a national movement that is going to move to every corner of the country to make sure that the right thing is done. It is on this note that I present this petition on behalf of over 30 civil society organisations, on behalf of taxpayers who have no voice, to you, to please, take action on this because Nigerians are suffering. These few people cannot continue to retrogress this nation.”

EFCC Deputy Director (Operations), Lagos Office, Kwarbai said while receiving the petition, expressed appreciation that the groups were joining the commission in its fight against corruption, vowing that the EFCC would not spare any Nigerian found wanting on the budget padding saga, no matter how highly placed such individual was.

Kwarbai, who disclosed that several petitions had earlier been received from Nigerians by the EFCC on the same budget padding saga, said preliminary investigations had since been commenced, noting that whoever was indicted among the House of Representatives principal officers ar any other would by invited thereafter by the Commission.