By Damilola Oyedele and James Emejo
Abuja — Six months after it was laid before a joint session of the National Assembly, the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Appropriation Tuesday laid the report of the 2018 budget at plenary, increasing the federal government’s expenditure for the year by almost N500 billion to N9.120 trillion.
In the upper chamber, the document was laid by Senator Danjuma Goje, chairman of the committee, while his counterpart in the House, Hon. Mustapha Bala Madaki, laid that of the lower legislative chamber.
The Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yussuff Lasun, who presided over plenary in the House Tuesday said the budget would probably be passed Wednesday, but in the event that the House is unable to conclude work on the Appropriation Bill Wednesday, it will be passed Thursday.
A breakdown of the new estimates showed that of the N9.12 trillion budget, the sum of N530.4 billion was earmarked for statutory transfers, while the sum of N2.204 trillion was set aside for debt service, of which N190 billion is for the sinking fund for maturing loans
Recurrent (non-debt) expenditure for the 2018 budget was put at N3.52 trillion while N2.87 trillion was estimated as contribution to the development fund for capital expenditure (exclusive of capital expenditure in statutory transfers).
Also, the joint Committee of the Senate and House charged with investigating the April 18 invasion of the Senate chambers and theft of the mace, summoned Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta APC) and Senator Ali Ndume (Borno APC) over their alleged roles in the incident.
Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, who doubles as chairman of the committee, issued the summons at the committee’s sitting Tuesday where he alleged that both men were found to be complicit in the invasion.
While Omo-Agege was accused of facilitating access to unauthorised persons who assaulted security officials of the legislature and stole the mace, Ndume was accused of preventing officials of the Senate chamber from carting away the mace to safety, when mayhem broke out.
They were summoned to appear before the committee Wednesday.
Na’Allah read the letter of summons for Omo-Agege, saying: “Based on the testimony of the DPO (Divisional Police Officer), the SSS (State Security Services) and the sergeant at arms, you were alleged to have entered the National Assembly, accompanied by seven persons who allegedly took the mace of the Senate during plenary session on April 18, at about 11:30 a.m.
“All those who testified stated that the said people were cleared into the chamber based on your confirmation that they were with you.
“The committee, in pursuance of this, has deemed it necessary to formally invite you to respond to these allegations on Wednesday, May 16 at 11:00 a.m.”
Na’allah also read the letter of summons for Ndume: “Based on the testimony of the sergeant at arms before the committee, you were alleged to have prevented the mace keeper from taking away the mace to safety.
“The committee has, therefore, deemed it necessary to invite you in order to respond to that allegation.”
Meanwhile, Omo-Agege failed to show up at the Senate plenary Tuesday after announcing that he would resume sitting, in line with a court judgment which quashed his suspension.
Omo-Agege was absent from the session, which started at 10.52 a.m. and lasted till about 1 p.m.
The embattled lawmaker on Monday had said he would attend plenary Tuesday, adding that nobody had the right to obstruct his entry into the upper legislative chamber.
Responding, the Senate in a statement Monday night said despite its appeal of the judgment, said the embattled lawmaker would not be stopped from attending plenary.
Omo-Agege was suspended by the Senate for 90 legislative days over his comments on the change in the order of elections in the Electoral Amendment Bill, when he had accused the Senate of deliberately targeting President Muhammadu Buhari.
Ndume was also suspended by the Senate for 90 legislative days in March 2017. His suspension was, however, quashed by the Federal High Court, Abuja. The decision is also on appeal by the Senate.