Budget Padding: Reps Plot Suspension Of Jibrin As Police Summons Dogara, Others
As the House of Representatives resumes next week, the leadership of the lower legislative chamber is poised to send the sacked chairman of the House of Representatives committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, on suspension.
Jibrin had all through the the recess of the House which began in July spilled beans on alleged padding of the 2016 budget with fictitious projects running to over N284b.
He also claimed that most members of the House diverted N10b in running cost that was not part of their salaries over the years.
Those indicted by Jibrin included the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Lasun Yussuff; the Chief Whip, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; and the Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor.
They have all dismissed the allegations as baseless and are believed to be pressing for sanction against him.
But just as the House leadership is plotting his suspension, the Special Investigation Panel probing the budget padding allegations will send fresh invitations to the Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and other principal officers named in the scandal.
Jubril is however making frantic efforts to woo more members to his side as the prepares to resume.
Jibrin wrote a 17-page letter to every member of the House on why Speaker Dogara should be asked to step down.
This, according to him, will pave the way for a comprehensive and unhindered investigation of the allegations of budget padding.
He also asked for a comprehensive review of the House rules which he said Dogara has manipulated by inserting draconian laws.
He said: “The truth of the matter is that I stood against corruption. I stood against budget fraud. The Speaker and the three principal officers saw me as a stumbling block to a free flow of corruption and budget fraud. They desperately wanted me out.
“That is why despite the fact that I told him of my decision to resign, from his pronouncement, he had wished he fired me. I have stated repeatedly that I did nothing wrong in the 2016 budget, I did not abuse my office or corruptly enrich myself in the five years I have been in the House. I have stated repeatedly that anybody that has an allegation against me in that regard should feel free and bring it up.
“The pronouncement of my questionable “sack” on the floor was immediately followed by a heavy campaign of calumny in the media spreading falsehood against my person and family sponsored by Speaker Dogara and in several instances using the House spokesperson and later his spokesman until some patriotic members called the House spokesperson to order.
“But that was a joke compared to what followed after the close of session on Thursday, July 21, 2016. The plan is to execute my “sack” just before the recess so that by the time we return I would have been buried and the issue forgotten. I promised Mr. Speaker on July 21st that this issue will never be swept under the carpet.”
However, a National Assembly source, who pleaded anonymity, said Jibrin is in for a ‘rude shock’ when the House resumes.
According to her, contrary to what the embattled lawmaker believes that he has the support of majority of his colleagues in his drive to expose corruption in the House, Jibrin would end up being alone at the end.
She said: “I want to assure you that by the time the House resumes on Tuesday, Jibrin will look behind and find out that he is alone.
“Yes, he might think that this false anti-corruption garb he is now wearing is going to endear him to Nigerians, but he will be shocked by the time he discovers that no one would take him serious any longer, when all the facts about him are laid on the table.
“This is because Nigerians are not gullible to the extent that they won’t ask why did he not make noise about corruption in the House since the last Assembly when he was privileged to chair an important committee like Finance.
“That aside, the leadership will not allow one individual to bring down the House just because he is aggrieved for being removed as a Committee chairman.
“The strategy is to ensure that he is left with no opportunity to embarrass the Speaker and the entire House.
“In my view, the best way to ensure this is to suspend him and I think that is what is going to happen, except for a last minute change.
“We have heard from the grapevine that his intention is to constitute himself into a nuisance from the first day thereby causing commotion on the floor.
“Being an attention seeker, he is well aware that the cameras would always zoom on him while in the Chamber, so he is going to maximise that by suspension as House resumes raising all kinds of point of order.
“We are not going to allow that to happen because he is just an individual that wants to bring the entire House down with him.
“I can assure you that the letter he wrote to members was just self seeking. Whatever he wanted the letter to achieve has failed because he has also brought the entire members into the fray by accusing them of diverting the running cost.
“At any rate, why would he need to write every member if his fight was sincere in the first place?
“In a situation like this, your action is all that is needed to garner support on your side if you are fighting a just cause, it is supposed to be spontaneous.
“But in his case, he is just struggling to win the support of his colleagues that he has rubbished before Nigerians. That cannot work.
“There is no anxiety, we have also perfected our plans but ours is dependent on how he conducts himself.”
However, a member of Integrity Group said they were still studying the content of Jibrin’s letter.
He said the issues raised by Jibrin were serious enough to be investigated by external bodies but would not want the House to lose its integrity with Nigerians.
“We are not going to rush into what the Jibrin’s letter is asking of us. We are studying the situation and will only do what is right for this institution.
“If you recall, we made it clear before Jibrin’s removal that the Speaker should allow us question the wisdom behind Jibrin’s behaviour over the budget but we were turned down.
“Now that the story has changed, no one should be of the opinion that we are behind or sponsoring Jibrin, all we are doing is to get things right.
“Jibrin cannot tell us what to do, we know what is good for us and what is good for this institution,” he said.
On the invitation of Dogara and other principal members of the House, It was learnt that the special probe panel, headed by a retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Ali Amodu, would send the invitations when the National Assembly resume this week.
Police sources stated that the SIP had covered a lot of ground in its quest to unearth the culprits behind the alleged padding of N280bn in the 2016 budget.
According to a source, “the fact is that the house officers, including the speaker, have no immunity against investigation or prosecution; anybody could be investigated including governors and the President.@
“The immunity of the governors and the President does not preclude investigation. It only protects them while in office, but once they are out of office, they could be prosecuted.
“The panel has covered a lot of ground with the documents at its disposal, and it will invite the men (lawmakers) when they are ready to interrogate them and anyone who fails to show up has tacitly admitted that he is guilty of the allegations against him.”