Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bankole may be arraigned today by EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), may today arraign the former speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, on a four-count charge, in connection with the N10 billion loan scandal in the house.

Mr Bankole, whose earlier arrest was foiled Friday last week by the intervention of the Inspector General of Police, Hafiz Ringim, was picked up at his Asokoro, Abuja home by 8pm Sunday evening and is still in custody of the EFCC.

An official of the commission, who spoke with Nigeria Newspapers on condition of anonymity said the EFCC would arraign Mr Bankole today at a federal high court Abuja.

"The prosecution Counsel Festus Keyamo has already prepared the charge and he will likely be arraigned tomorrow," he said.

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 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 member.

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 as shown in the statement, Mr Bankole and Mr Nafada's allowances remained at their initial N100 million and N80 million respectively, while those of the House Leaders rose from N46 million 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.

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