Budget Padding: SERAP Tells Dogara, Others To Resign; No He Won’t, Says Ogor
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project and some eminent lawyers on Sunday called on the Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, and other principal officers of the House, who were alleged to have compromised the integrity of the 2016 budget, to step aside for proper investigation to be carried out into the allegations.
A former House Committee Chairman on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, who was removed as the committee chairman two weeks ago, had alleged that the four principal officers requested the inclusion of N40bn projects in the 2016 budget.
Aside Dogara, other principal officers named in the budget padding saga are the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Yussuff Lasun; the Chief Whip, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; and the Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor.
In an open letter to the Speaker, SERAP asked Dogara to step aside to allow investigations by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and other agencies.
The letter, dated July 29, 2016, was signed by SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni.
It stated, “Following confirmation received by SERAP from the EFCC that it has taken up and looking into SERAP’s petition to the body on the allegations that the leadership of the House of Representatives padded the 2016 budget to the tune of N481bn, SERAP is now writing to request you to immediately step aside from your position as the Speaker of the House of Representatives pending the outcome of the investigation.
“We also urge you to ensure that other principal officers of the House, suspected to be involved in the alleged padding, step aside from their positions to allow for the investigation by the EFCC and other agencies to go ahead unhindered.”
According to it, the case deserves a thorough, transparent, independent and effective investigation by the EFCC and other agencies.
The Publicity Secretary of the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, believed that the current budget padding scam in the House, had also underscored the belief that corruption had become deep-seated in the country.
He said “Unfortunately, the budget has been signed, which makes it a law that cannot be investigated. There is, however, a moral burden over the weighty allegations that require coming clean by the leadership of the House.
‘‘People are, however, not oblivious of the fact that until we deal with the architecture of corruption, the scourge will be dancing from one spot to another and we will only be screaming when the symptoms manifest.”
The Minority Leader of the House, Ogor, dismissed the call by SERAP and other eminent Nigerians, saying it would appear that there was a “hidden agenda” in asking the Speaker to step down over a “dead horse.”
Ogor said he did not see how Dogara would step down over “lies fabricated by a pathological liar by name Abdulmumin Jibrin.”
He added that Jibrin had no case and had not really substantiated any of his allegations.
Ogor, who is one of the four principal officers accused by Jibrin, added, “What allegations has Jibrin made? He has not said anything. Is it that the National Assembly should no longer do its work of appropriation?
“What is the investigation about? Is it the zonal intervention projects, which have been the convention since 1999 that every principal officer gets, just like every member does?
“Are they saying that the Speaker should step down so they can investigate the same budget that Mr. President first refused to sign because it was mutilated by Jibrin?’’
House spokesman, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, could not be reached on his mobile on Sunday for his reactions.