Emmanuel Onwubiko 

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has also described as terrorism any proven case of unconstitutional and illegal act by the National Assembly hierarchy of padding up the budget with unapproved allocation just as the Rights group has called for a thorough investigation of the current allegations by Abdul Ningi, senator representing Bauchi Central, who alleged that the 2024 budget was padded with N3 trillion in the national assembly.

HURIWA said that from benefits of hindsight, the criminal act of hiding unbudgeted items into the lawfully passed budget has generated a lot of economic haemorrhage and devastating economic paralysis all across Nigeria which inevitably leads to the collapse of major socio-economic infrastructures. Therefore, we are of the considered position that the crime of padding up the budget by the National Assembly’s hierarchy is not different from political terrorism. “Our worry however with this alarm by the Senator from Bauchi state is that he sounded as if he is out for a regional political warfare for his ethno-geographical area of Northern Nigeria and not from the point of view of a nationalist. This is why the allegations must be thoroughly investigated to ascertain the merits and veracity and then steps taken to identify the individuals responsible so they are brought to the court of competent jurisdiction to be prosecuted as terrorists.”

HURIWA recalled that Senator Ningi the leader of Northern Senators who spoke in an interview with BBC Hausa, said the northern senators have engaged with some experts to review the budget even as he stated that “huge damage” has been done to the north and the entire country in the budget.

The Bauchi senator said as follows: “We have engaged consultants to review the budget for us. We have some experts that are working on it line by line,” he said.

“We have seen the huge damage that was done not only to the north but the entire country in that budget.

“We are supposed to sit with the senate president to inform him about what we have observed.

“We want to show him what we have seen in the budget that is not acceptable, we will not accept them and we don’t want the country to continue spending money on those things.

“Apart from what the national assembly did on the floor, there was another budget that was done underground which we didn’t know.

“The new things we have discovered in the budget were not known to us. We haven’t seen them in the budget that was debated and considered on the floor of the national assembly.”

“For example, we had a budget of N28 trillion but after our checks, we found out that it was a budget of N25 trillion. How and where did the difference come from?”

HURIWA in a statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko asked the northern senators to eschew regional sentiments and confront the allegations of padding of the budget from a nationalistic viewpoint because in the thinking of our group, budget padding is as bad as terrorism because it amounts to systemic heists of the resources of the public that ought to be channeled into building key infrastructures and social amenities to ameliorate the hard times confronting a majority of Nigerians.

HURIWA said it condemns any proven case of budget padding and is demanding that there is the need to name, shame and prosecute all those who are the masterminds of this mindless and heartless act of political terrorism and brigandage called budget padding just as we are demanding that they should be prosecuted as economic saboteurs and sanctioned harshly.

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