- Category: Politics
- Published on Monday, 27 December 2010 08:27
- Written by Admin
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The leadership of the House has, however, described claims that it is battling a financial crisis as “impossible.” Among the worst-hit by the development are the 11 reinstated members of the House who were suspended on June 22.
Investigations by THE PUNCH on Friday showed that seven of the reinstated lawmakers had not been paid their salaries and allowances, which accrued since June when they were suspended, allegedly owing to lack of funds.
Five of the seven, Mr. Dino Melaye, Mr. Solomon Awhinawhin, Mr. Anas Adamu, Mr. Bitus Kaze and Mr. Independence Ogunewe, had on Thursday, filed contempt charges against the leadership of the House for failing to pay their salaries and allowances.
THE PUNCH, however, learnt that the leadership was warned about how to source funds to offset the salaries and allowances.
Each member of the House officially takes home N28m every three months as “quarterly allowance”, excluding the monthly salary of around N1m.
This implies that each lawmaker receives at least N10m every month (salary and allowances).
Findings indicated that for the two quarters (six months) that the 11 lawmakers were on suspension, their accrued salaries and allowances stand at N660m.
It was gathered that owing to the financial crisis, only four of the 11 lawmakers reportedly received part payment of their salaries and allowances before the House proceeded on Christmas break on December 21.
Sources in the bureaucracy of the National Assembly claimed that Mr. Ehiohie West-Idahosa and Mr. Gbenga Onigbogi were paid about N25m each.
Two others, Mr. Austin Nwachukwu and Mr. Gbenga Oduwaiye, reportedly received about N16m each, leaving huge balances yet to be paid.
The four did not challenge their suspension in court but preferred to seek pardon by apologising to the House over their roles in the event that led to June 22 free-for-all on the floor of the House.
It was learnt that the five lawmakers led by Melaye and two others — Ms. Doris Uboh and Kayode Amusan — were yet to be paid as at Friday.
One of the sources in the National Assembly bureaucracy attributed the financial crisis in the House to the alleged decision of lawmakers to “collapse and share” all the funds budgeted for the running of the House in 2010 across board.
The source, who is a senior management official, confided in our correspondent in Abuja that, “The truth is that there is not enough money in the accounts of the House.”
He said, “They (lawmakers) have drawn and spent nearly all their votes and that is why they are having problems with those members suspended who were reinstated by the court.
“Trouble is brewing there (at the House) because even if they collapsed the accounts, they ought to have known that they must set aside the salaries and allowances of the suspended lawmakers.
“Except if they had concluded that the suspension was indefinite and they did not envisage the lawmakers bouncing back through the court.
“I strongly feel that their inability to honour the court decision is because there is no money to clear the outstanding salaries and allowances.”
But the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Labaran Dambatta, denied that the House was broke
Dambatta, who told our correspondent that he had been paid his December salary, added that it was impossible for anybody to say that there was no money in the accounts of the House.
“How can the accounts be in the red? It is not possible”, he claimed.
When asked why the reinstated lawmakers had not been paid their salaries and allowances, Dambatta replied, “I would not know really. It is an individual thing.”
According to him, that the majority of lawmakers has been paid and some excluded does not mean that the House has no money.
“Even if two of you operate accounts in the same bank, one person may be paid and another one may not be paid; it has to do with the individual”, he added.
The spokesman for the House, Mr. Eseme Eyiboh, is out of the country, while several calls to the mobile telephone of the Majority Leader, Mr. Tunde Akogun, were not answered.
When contacted on Sunday, Melaye confirmed that the reinstated lawmakers had not been paid their salaries and allowances.
“That is why we went to court; if we have been paid, why did we go to court?” he asked.