• BudgIT decries assault on democratic accountability

BudgIT has decried assault on its Project Tracking Officers by the Nigerian Police which culminated in the arrest of its Niger State Project Tracking Officer, Moses Motoni. On the 2nd December 2017, Moses Motoni 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 LGA, Niger South Senatorial District, Niger State-N25m)” as stated in the 2017 Appropriation Act.

Moses encouraged the community members to engage their representatives at the National Assembly and ensure the budgeted projects are implemented. Shortly after the town hall meeting in Bida, Senator Sani Mohammed put a phone call through to our PTO, Moses Motoni 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 5th December 2017, Moses received an SMS instructing him to pick up a DHL parcel at Markafi market in Kaduna. Unknown 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.

BudgIT was distraught at the development considering Moses Motoni was merely exercising his rights as a citizen in a democratic nation like Nigeria. It is important to note 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 and our officer, Moses Motoni. Moses was taken to the Metro Police Station, Enugu Road in Kaduna and subsequently transferred to Abuja in hand and legs cuffed, while his aged mother wailed on as he was led away by the Police. Motoni spent the night at the SARS Office, 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.

Earlier this afternoon, the Police Force released a statement that Motoni was reportedly “inciting public disturbance” and is being released on bail. We maintain that his arrest was on the order of Senator Mohammed Sani of Niger State and abuse against human rights provision which Moses has as a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We also ask that the Nigerian Police should respect the rights of citizens and embrace reforms that further professional conduct.

On this note, BudgIT intends to press charges for this unlawful arrest and detention of our project tracking officer. We count this as an assault on democracy and that Moses is unaware and does not participate in any move to topple any king within the domain. 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.