Monday, June 6, 2011

Bankole in EFCC’s net

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After a four-hour standoff, speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole was yesterday evening arrested by officers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Mr Bankole, whose earlier arrest was foiled last Friday by the intervention of the Inspector General of Police, Hafiz Ringim, was picked at his Asokoro, Abuja home by 8pm Sunday evening and has been taken into custody by the EFCC.
An official of the commission, who spoke with NEXT on condition of anonymity said the EFCC decided to arrest Mr Bankole because it learnt the man had concluded plans to travel out of the country tomorrow.
The source said the long standoff came to an end after the Director-General of the State Security Service (SSS) and the Mr Ringim finally decided to withdraw Mr Bankole’s security details.
The outgoing speaker is wanted over alleged financial misdeeds during his reign as speaker of the House which ended last week.
Speaking before his arrest, Mr Bankole admitted drawing the controversial N10 billion loan said to have been unauthorised by the House. He, however, said the decision was collective and denied benefiting from its sharing.
Mr Bankole’s comment is the first time he would publicly respond to the many allegations of corruption against him.
In a statement released on Sunday, Mr Bankole issued the first authoritative confirmation of an intimidating payroll which the outgoing lawmakers approved for themselves alongside with the Senate in 2010.
Mr Bankole said the loan was not a personal facility but was sourced on the directive of the House to foot the large increment in quarterly allowances approved for each members.
He said the directive was reached by a 37-member committee and endorsed by an executive session of the house.
However, as Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively, Mr Bankole and Usman Nafada, were not part of the proceeds from the loan since they already earned a whopping N100 million and N80 million quarterly each, the statement signed by Media Aide to Mr Bankole, Idowu Bakare said.
“Before the increment quarterly allowance to the office of the Speaker was N100million while his deputy received N80 million. The loan in question was distributed among other principal officers and the remaining members of the House,” the statement read.
All feed fat In the distribution made available in the statement, Mr Bankole’s and Mr Nafada’s allowances remained at their initial N100 million and N80 million respectively, while those of the House Leaders rose from N46million to N60 million.
The Deputy Leader took N57 million instead of the former N43 million while the Chief Whip took N55 million instead of the initial N41 million.
The deputy Whip received N54.5 million instead of N40.5 million and the Minority Whip took N50 million from N36 million.
Other members, including the members of the so called Progressives, led by Dino Melaye, who claimed the loan was not known to the House, collected N42 million instead of N28 million.
In all, the differential of N14 million each for the 360 members, except for the Speaker and the Deputy, accounted for N5.012 billion and for two quarters which the loans were drawn, the amount became N10.024 billion with interest, the former speaker claimed.
Mr Bankole said the Executive Session, which was held on Tuesday March 30, 2010 where the report of a 37 member Committee set up on March 25, 2010 to look into “agitation of member for enhancement of running costs of members”, was reported by Independence Ogunewe, a member of the Melaye-group.

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