Gbajabiamila Denies Lawmakers Took N17bn Bribe From Okonjo-Iweala

Femi Gbajabiamila, the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, has denied Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s claim that lawmakers took N17 billion bribe before passing the 2015 budget.

Okonjo-Iweala had said in her book, Fighting Corruption is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines, that lawmakers had demanded N20 billion to pass the budget but had settled for N17 billion. The N17 billion bribe, according to Okonjo-Iweala, was besides the National Assembly’s N150 billion annual “standard” budget.

Gbajabiamila, who was minority leader of the house at the time, said it was rather a case of Okonjo-Iweala and her aides adding personal projects for constituencies into the budget.  He explained that the aides who wanted to contest seats in the National Assembly had perpetrated the padding.

Abdulmumin Jibrin, another member of the House of Representatives, said he was not aware of the alleged bribe.

”As the chairman of House Committee on Finance during the period in question, I was never part of a meeting where such decision was made. I am not aware of any N17bn naira introduced in the 2014 budget for election expenses for members and I did not benefit from such money if at all it ever existed.

”It is absolutely unfair of the former minister of finance to make such grievous allegation in a blanket manner. She should have named those that participated at the said meeting and received the money,” he said.

Also, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, the spokesperson for the Senate in the 7th Assembly, said the N17 billion was an addition to the National Assembly’s budget.

”I don’t think the former finance minister meant that the money was a bribe. I think it is the media that are insinuating that she bribed the lawmakers.

”She said the Federal Government gave extra funding to the National Assembly. The media should look at the National Assembly budget for that year and see whether it was above N150 billion before making insinuations.”

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