By Brendan Umoren
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) interrogated Clerk to the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori, following a petition by Legislatives Aides, it was learnt on Sunday.
Findings showed that some Legislative Aides petitioned the Presidency over “outstanding claims and allowances” the National Assembly allegedly refused to pay them.
A reliable source said that the petition was written against the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representative, Yakubu Dogara, for their “inability to prevail on the management of the National Assembly to settle the outstanding claims.”
The Presidency was said to have referred the petition to the EFCC for appropriate action.
The source said that “the National Assembly Clerk may have been invited by the EFCC as “the accounting officer” to clear the air on the issues raised by the Legislative Aides, among other sundry matters on financial dealings.”
Apart from the outstanding allowances of the Legislative Aides, he said that the voting method for the election of the presiding officers of the ninth National Assembly was “another contentious issue the EFCC dived into with the Clerk.”
The EFCC, he said, “demanded to know the voting method the Clerk intended to use for the election of presiding officers, whether open or secret ballot.”
According to him, “the voting method to be adopted for the election of the presiding officers of the 9th assembly is actually creating tension in the National Assembly.”
He noted that while some senators and House of Representatives members were rooting for open ballot as was used in 2011, others favour secret ballot as was the case in 2015.
Findings showed that the two sides may disrupt the election of presiding officers on June 11 if the voting pattern did not go their way.
It was also gathered that Senate and House of Representatives Rule Book had already been circulated to all senators-elect and House of Representatives members-elect during their induction programme last month.
While the 2011 Senate Rule Book made provision for open ballot, the contentious 2015 version provided for secret ballot.
The source who would not say the interest of EFCC in the voting method for the election of the presiding officers, simply laughed and said “we are talking about the election of the number three citizen of this country, it is a subject of interest to political leaders.”
He noted that the front runners for the Senate President, Senators Ahmed Lawan, Mohammed Ali Ndume and Mohammed Danjuma Goje were “sharply divided over whether to adopt open or secret voting method for the election of presiding officers.”
According to him, while the Lawan camp is pushing for open ballot, the Ndume and Goje camps are insisting on secret ballot.”
He said, “There may be a show down and clash which may lead to the disruption of the election of the presiding officers. The two sides are maintaining their positions.
“Nobody can say how it will end because the scenario is still unfolding but there is fear of unpleasant scene that will be totally unparliamentary and uncalled for.”
The EFCC quizzed Sani-Omolori last Tuesday over issues relating to the financial dealings in the National Assembly for about six hours.
The interrogation of the clerk was said to have lasted from about 11am to 5pm when Omolori was allowed to go home.
The source noted that apart from the initial questions on records of financial dealings of the National Assembly, Omolori was also asked questions on the method of election of the presiding officers of the ninth National Assembly.
Omolori was said to have “duly cooperated with the EFCC officers.”
Contacted, a source in the EFCC confirmed Omolori’s interrogation by the anti-crime agency.
The source who spoke anonymously because he was not authorised to speak on the issue, said that Omolori visited the commission on Tuesday.
Findings should that Omolori’s international passport was taken from him by EFCC operatives.
It was gathered that other key officials of the National Assembly including the Clerk of the Senate, Clerk of the House of Representatives as well as their deputies may be invited by the EFCC for questioning.