A 2014 audit report released this year has exposed a Nigerian senator who received four years salary when he only replaced a deceased lawmaker barely 10 months towards end of tenure of the Seventh Assembly under Senate President, David Mark.
The full report submitted to the National Assembly recently revealed that the lawmaker was overpaid by nearly N8 million, plus other shocking details of how state resources were squandered on false spending, and how officials, in many cases, arbitrarily spent billions of naira without explanations.
First hand statement of the report said;
“A Senator who was elected to replace a deceased Senator, in the month of September 2014, 10 (ten) months to the expiration of the 7th Senate was found to have been paid full Accommodation and Furniture Allowance (of four years).”
The report stated that N10, 132,000.00 (Ten million, one hundred and thirty-two 229 thousand naira) was paid to the Senator, instead of N2, 533,000.00 (Two million, five hundred and thirty-three thousand naira) which represented his actual entitlement for one year.
Although the audit didn’t mention a name, the Prime Time report pointed out a senate records which showed that Shem Zagbayi, Niger East, was the only lawmaker sworn in in September 2014 – the period referenced by the audit report.
Mr. Zagbayi, who is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was elected as replacement for Dahiru Kuta, who died in June 2014. During the course of his short time in office, Zagbayi was overpaid by the David Mark-led Senate by N7.6 million.
The report demanded the amount be recovered and paid back to government. Though 10-month was stated in the report, Zagbayi actually served for just seven months, as a court later ruled that his election was fraudulent in the first place. He was sacked about three months to the end of the 7th Senate, on March 11, 2015, by the Minna, Niger State, division of the Court of Appeal, who affirmed an earlier ruling of a Tribunal which cited malpractices and non-compliance with relevant laws, and granted victory to the All Progressives Congress candidate, David Umaru.
Mr. Umaru who was sworn in April 1, 2015. He later returned to the eighth senate, and is currently the Chairman of the Committee on Judiciary and Human Rights. But it was not immediately clear if Mr. Umaru, like Mr. Zagbayi, was paid for four years instead of the barely two months he had to serve in the Seventh Assembly.
No evidence surfaced to show that Mr. Zagbayi made any refunds to the government. He could not be reached for comments and Mr. Mark, who authorized the humongous payment could not also be reached, for comments.