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Budget scam: I知 afraid for my life, says Iyabo Obasanjo

Posted by By BASHIR UMAR, Abuja SUSAN NWANGANGA AGWU, Lagos on 2008/04/18 | Views: 2171 |

Budget scam: I知 afraid for my life, says Iyabo Obasanjo


The Senate has asked embattled Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, daughter of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, to appear before it next Tuesday over the case the Economic and financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has against her.

The Senate has asked embattled Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, daughter of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, to appear before it next Tuesday over the case the Economic and financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has against her.

This is coming at a time Senator Obasanjo-Bello raised an alarm that her life is in danger after being charged by the EFCC over the sharing of N300 million unspent Ministry of Health budget money.
The senator, who chairs Senate痴 health committee, was named in the fraud that was uncovered in February and which has led to the resignation of two health ministers, Prof Adenike Grange and Gabriel Aduku

Her comments on British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on Wednesday night came after the EFCC laid siege to her Abuja residence to arrest her on Tuesday.
的 am not on the run, but I feel as if I知 a victim of harassment I知 afraid for my life, she told BBC.
Her fears notwithstanding, her colleagues in the upper legislative chamber of the National Assembly have given her up till Tuesday next week to appear before them to clear herself of the embarrassment she caused the Senate.

The EFCC had alleged that two former health ministers withdrew unspent budget money to share and accused Senator Obasanjo-Bello of receiving N10 million of that money.

After charges against her were read in court last week, the EFCC said she had to turn herself in as soon as possible. She, however, said she could not understand why her home was raided on Tuesday when she had visited the EFCC offices twice in the past week and made herself available through her lawyer.
She told BBC Focus on Africa: "I am afraid of the EFCC... they slapped my PA when they got to the house.

"There's a very huge anti-Obasanjo sentiment in the country now and honestly the behaviour is not normal."
After failing to attend the Senate sitting for two consecutive days, Senate Chief Whip, Senator Kanti Bello, at the Senate痴 meeting on Thursday, called on the upper house to urge Obsanjo-Bello to comply with the directives of EFCC.

In a motion, Senator Bello, expressed concern that in the past couple of days the Nigerian media had published one embarrassing story or the other about Senator Obasanjo-Bello, which he said did not reflect the decency and repute of the highest law making body in the country.
Senator Bello, therefore, called on the Senate to 電o something urgent and drastic before the situation gets out of hand.

Seconding the motion, Senator James Manager asked the Senate to, first, find out the whereabouts of the embattled senator before taking any measure, as according to him: 的t is not known for now whether she is easily accessibly or not and we are not sure of her security and health condition as yet.

Senator Uche Chukwumerije, in his contribution, cautioned the Senate against delving into measures that could portray it as going against the rule of law, and therefore suggested: 展e must be able to differentiate between the rights of individual and the rule of law.

He warned that as Nigerians were being gradually and rightly assimilated into the principles of the rule of law, the Senate must not derail from that direction by giving an impression that the legislature was above the law.

Senator Jubril Aminu, viewing the issue differently, said: 展e are talking about fundamental human rights here, and anybody has a right under the constitution to be protected by the Senate, and Iyabo Obasanjo is no exception.

的t is not a matter of rule of law; it is about Iyabo Obasanjo as an individual Nigerian and as senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; so the Senate should look at it from the angle of protecting the life and health of Iyabo as an individual Nigerian and not from the angle of the rule of law.

He said the trailing around of Senator Obasanjo by EFCC officers was an infringement on her fundamental human rights, especially after the Senate had given a clean bill of health to her.
He, therefore, called on all the security agents to allow Senator Obasanjo-Bello enjoy the air of freedom, while the case is still in court.

Senator Joy Emordi, concurred with the contribution of Senator Jubril Aminu.
At the end of the debate, Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ikweremadu, who presided in Thursday plenary session, ordered the sponsor of the motion, Senator Kanti Bello, to find out where Iyabo Obasanjo is, whether in Nigeria or outside 殿nd bring her to us.

It is the responsibility of the Senate, he said, to make it clear to Nigerians that the upper chamber has no special interest in making anybody above the law, adding: 展e need to keep Nigerians posted on whatever is happening to any of us here.

He told the Senate whip to summon Senator Obasanjo-Bello before or on Tuesday next week, where she would be given the chance to explain her case in a closed-door session.
Kicking against the earlier clean bill of health given Senator Obasanjo-Bello, while commenting on the issue, former Senate president, Ken Nnamani, reasoned that it was an error of judgment made by the Senate.

Nnamani, who spoke to journalists in Abuja, said the whole drama as it unfolds, was demeaning to the National Assembly in general and the Senate in particular.
According to him, 妬f she knows her actions were within the ambit of the law, why the hide and seek game?

He, therefore, advised Obasanjo-Bello to tell the court that she acted within the ambit of the law, so that she would be free to continue her legislative assignment.
Condemning the collection of the alleged N10 million from the health ministry, Nnamani categorically said that it was wrong 鍍o collect money from an institution you are supposed to supervise.

He explained that if such expenditure was within the budget of the ministry or any parastatal, 努hat the ministry should simply have done was to get members of the committee, get their tickets, calculate their estacode and liaise with the secretary of the committee.

He wondered why Obasanjo-Bello will continue to hide from law enforcement agents, stressing: 滴ow long will she be hiding under the parliamentary immunity to reside at the premises of the National Assembly.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.