7 December 2017

Nigeria: BudgIT Decries Assault On Its Staff, Democratic Accountability

BudgIT, a civic organisation has decried the assault on its Project Tracking Officers (PTOs) by the Nigeria Police which culminated in the arrest of its Niger State PTO, Moses Motoni.

Although Motoni was released wednesday, BudgIT alleged that his arrest was on the order of Senator Mohammed Sani of Niger State.

The organisation said it intends to press charges for "this unlawful arrest and detention of our project tracking officer."

According to a statement from the organisation wednesday, on December 2, 2017, Motoni had visited Bida, Niger South senatorial district to sensitise the community members on the zonal intervention projects awarded to their constituency in the 2017 Budget.

The exact project was the "installation of transformers and electrification of the following communities: Nowanya-Tawadzuru tiffin-Emitswachi-Tawadzuru Tako in Gbako Local Government Area Niger South Senatorial District, Niger State-N25m)" as stated in the 2017 Appropriation Act.

BudgIT further stated that Motoni had encouraged the community members to engage their representatives at the National Assembly and ensure the budgeted projects were implemented.

"Shortly after the town hall meeting in Bida, Senator Sani Mohammed put a phone call through to our PTO inviting him to a meeting in his house which he declined as there were instructions that BudgIT tracking personnel are not allowed to meet with public officials privately.

"However, on the 5, December 2017, Moses received a text message instructing him to pick up a DHL parcel at Markafi market in Kaduna.

"Unknown to our PTO, it was a decoy by the Nigerian Police Force to apprehend him. Upon arrival, he was forcefully taken into a car, handcuffed, maltreated and driven off by SARS Officials who disguised as DHL personnel," the statement revealed.

BudgIT said it was distraught at the development considering that Motoni was merely exercising his rights as a citizen in a democratic nation like Nigeria.

The organisation stressed that public information is the right of every Nigerian citizen vis a vis public funds meant for developmental projects.

"The information received pointed Senator Mohammed Sani of Niger State as the alleged architect of the arrest involving the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and our officer, Motoni.

"Moses was taken to the Metro Police Station, Enugu Road in Kaduna and subsequently transferred to Abuja in hand and legs cuffs, while his aged mother wailed on as he was led away by the police.

"Motoni spent the night at the SARS office at Old Abattoir, Abuja despite all efforts to get him out. BudgIT took its social media platforms and raised the hashtag #FreeMosesMotoni to call for the wrongful detention of its officer.

"We acknowledge the support rendered by the Nigerian citizens, civil society organisations and media houses that took this undemocratic act up and contributed to the release of Moses Motoni.

"We will also like to reiterate that citizens must always hold their elected representatives accountable and ask questions at all time," the statement added.

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