By Adenike Lucas
An award wining civil society has called for the Speaker of the House of Representative to resign in the midst of the budget padding crisis gripping the lower legislative chamber.
Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni, the Executive director of the Socio-Ecomic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP signed a letter last month, calling for all those “suspected to be involved in the alleged budget padding to step aside pending the outcome of investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. ”
In a new statement released today, Mr Mumuni argued that budget padding is in fact “corruption.” He reiterated the groups call for the resignation of Rt. Hon Yakubu Dogara, who was accused by former chairman of Appropriations Committee, Hon. Dr. Abdulmumin Jibrin of padding the 2016 budget to the tune of 481 billion Naira.
In a press briefing with State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday, Hon. Dogara expressed that “padding was not an offence. Despite the insurmountable level of allegations leveled against him, he says he will not resign.”
“I studied law (and) I have been in the legislative and all this period I have never heard of the word padding being an offence under any law,” he said.
The lawmaker added that “If I don’t know, you are the media, research the law and let me know.”
When he was asked if he was worried, the representative for Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa Balewa, Bauchi State said “why should I be worried. As far as I am concerned I am not worried over anything,” before he walked away.
Hon. Dr Jibrin has since been ordered by the All Progressives Congress to stop distributing any “public statement on this matter.”
Many slammed the party for the letter which was signed by Senator Lawal Shuaibu, the deputy national chairman, North, calling it a “gagging order.”
Mr Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, another prominent member of SERAP has also waded into the scandal rocking the National Assembly, insisted that the alleged padding of the budget by some House members constituted as a criminal offence.
Mr Falana, stated that those accused should step down noting that Hon Jibrin had already done the same.