The passage of the 2017 budget has been delayed by last week’s raid on the Abuja home of the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje, by officers of the Nigeria Police.
Goje, speaking at plenary wednesday in his first public comments since the incident, said the policemen carted away his personal laptop and critical files relating to the budget from his study.
The Senate had assured Nigerians that the 2017 budget, which was laid last December, would be passed and transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari immediately after resumption from the Easter recess.
The police however raided Goje’s Asokoro home on April 20 for yet-to-be disclosed reasons, during which he said 18 files were carted away.
The operation was initially assumed to be that of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) until it was discovered that it was carried out by the police.
The senator also disclosed that the sum of N18 million, $19,000 and 4,000 Saudi Riyals were found and taken away from his home by the police.
Goje, who raised a point of order, said the Appropriation Committee had planned to lay the budget on Tuesday for the Senate’s passage yesterday.
“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).
“It is not our own fault, it is the fault of the police because the police interfered with the whole budget process. I hope Nigerians will not turn around to blackmail the National Assembly because the process was truncated by the police,” Goje said.
He added that the committee was unable to meet since the raid, as some of the documents were not available.
“I am so traumatised. 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.
“From today, we are trying to start sitting again as the Appropriation Committee to see what we can do with the budget,” Goje added.
He disclosed that the police was yet to officially contact him on why the raid was conducted, nor had they returned the monies, files and laptop to him.
“We will manage to pass this budget but don’t blame us if it is further delayed because it’s not my fault. It is not the fault of National Assembly. The police are the ones maybe hiding the budget now, maybe they are using the laptop and files to come out with the budget,” he said.
Goje disclosed that the raid started around 4 p.m. while he was in the office, and he called the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara to inform them of what was going on.
Saraki and Dogara made efforts and contacted Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and all the relevant agencies, including the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) but the operation continued, Goje said.
“At the end of the horrifying four hours, the police left me and members of my family completely traumatised and frightened. My children, my grandchildren, totally frightened, people in my house were totally frightened.
“My well wishers both inside and outside the country were frightened,” he said, adding that senators who tried to access his home during the raid were turned back.
Speaking on the matter, Saraki acknowledged that he was informed by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Police Affairs that the raid was carried out, following information provided by a whistle blower.
“This matter is a very serious matter as Senator Goje has said it’s now over five days with no statement or comment from the police to tell us why this raid took place, or where these files which are very important to the appropriation process are,” he said.
He lamented that the alleged whistle blower misled the police, but has now publicly embarrassed a senator.
He added that the police have a responsibility to publicly accept responsibility for the blunder.
“I also got information that the House (of Representatives) has set up an ad hoc committee on this matter and this committee has been mandated to work closely with the Senate, particularly to ascertain the circumstances surrounding why they went to Senator Goje’s house.
“If truly it was a whistle blower and he gave them wrong information, which is what the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris is telling them, then what were they doing about that wrong information? Have they come out with a public apology for this wrong raid?” Saraki asked.
Announcing the composition of a committee to investigate the raid and summon the IG, Saraki also mandated the committee to look into the files with the police that are affecting the passage of the budget.
The committee will be headed by Senator Jibrin Barau (Kano North).