Former Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, yesterday asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt and Commission (ICPC) to immediately arrest Speaker Yakubu Dogara for allegedly ‘padding’ the 2016 budget.
Jibrin also called for the arrest of Deputy Speaker Yusuf Lasun; Chief Whip Ado Doguwa; Minority leader Leo Ogor and 10 Committee Chairmen by the anti-graft agencies for their involvement in the alleged ‘padding’ on a day nine members of the Appropriation Committee accused Jibrin of not carrying them along in completing work on the 2016 budget.
Jibrin who took to his Twitter account yesterday claimed that Dogara and the others he asked the anti-graft agencies to arrest for allegedly padding the budget have been running to high places for protection.
He said: “This is 24 hours after my lawyers requested the EFCC and ICPC to grant me a date and time to personally deliver my petition on Mr Speaker and three others
“EFCC and ICPC are yet to revert to me. I decided to go personally so that in addition to the petition I can provide some further insight to them.
“EFCC and ICPC must arrest the Speaker, the three others and few others members in my petition immediately.
“They are running to high places looking for cover.”
Nine members of the Committee led by the Deputy Chairman, Emeka Azubogu, yesterday told reporters in Abuja that Jibrin hijacked the 2016 budget from them and worked on it all alone.
They said that the action of the sacked committee chairman prompted them to lodge a formal complaint with the Speaker for his removal.
Azubogu said that while there was nothing criminal in the action of the former committee chairman, it was wrong of him to have edged them out.
He said: “He was the Chairman of the Committee. He was carrying out the job the best way he could. If you are in the open, you can’t do the work.
“If people are calling him from everywhere, making demands, he would not be able to do the work. So he went in where he could.
“When he finishes the report, it is easy to present it to the Committee and then to the leadership. If they go through and approve, it’s binding on the House.
“He didn’t commit a crime. There are times you need to work and you need to be in a secluded place.”
They also took exception to Jibrin’s allegation that 10 committee chairmen inserted 2000 projects worth N284 billion into the budget.
“He who alleges must prove. He was the Chairman of the committee. It was personal information that he had to himself,” Azubogu said.
“If we were privileged to have known this all along, we would have acted on it. This is one of the things that caused the quarrel.”
The Committee members defended the Speaker over the allegation that he diverted some projects to his farm, and rejected calls for the investigation of Jibrin’s allegations by external bodies.
His words: “If for any reason a person makes a request for project to be included for his constituency, it does not mean padding or mutilation.
“That the Speaker took water project to his farm in Nassarawa, I don’t think that is true.
“What I want you to understand is that when people have personality clash, people start throwing sand into it. So, I want to separate this issue.
“Most of these issues are not meant for public discourse. So, leave that matter about Speaker citing project in his farm or in Nassarawa. Is he from Nassarawa?
“On the insertion of N284 billion by 10 committees in the House, he should bring proof. Why did he release only seven names. He should bring proof to the House.
“That the Speaker inserted projects worth of N30 billion is baseless.
“When people write to the Speaker, he will send it to the Appropriation Chairman. If it is treatable, he will treat.
“We should separate politics or disagreement about people that are working together.
“If there are issues with this appropriation process which is something that happens in the parliament, it is something that can be addressed within the Ethics and Privileges of the members, and there is an internal mechanism to resolve that .
“As Members of the Committee on Appropriation, we want to state categorically that the ousted chairman’s action does not in any way reflect the position of the committee.
“He has constantly allotted all the actions and decisions of the committee to himself without conferring with the members.
“We wish to state that we totally disassociate ourselves with all the calculated plot to pull down the integrity of the leadership and members of the 8th House of Representatives.”
Reacting to the committee members’ allegation against him last night, Jibrin wondered why only nine of the 40 members of the committee agreed to address the press.
He alleged that they were sponsored by the Speaker to disparage him.
Of Azubogu, he said: “My same Deputy Hon Chris Azubogu (you will remember his history with Hon Hembe in the 7th Assembly), who was used to organise the press conference was clearly on camera almost crying at the press conference where I announced my resignation.
“It took a couple of minutes before I could calm him down, get him seated for me to commence the event.”
He said Azubogu demanded insertion of 111 projects into the budget, “which I turned down. You can imagine the pressure I went through. The 9 of them are a disgrace to their constituents.”
Maduabum dismissed Jibrin’s allegation of giving the nine committee members $20000 each as a lie.
“I did not at any time meet or hand over any money of any sort to any member of the House Appropriations Committee. This accusation is not only a lie but pure fiction, a figment of his imagination,” he said.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Hon Speaker, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara did not give me any money to distribute to any member of the House or indeed any member of the Appropriations Committee.
“The Honourable Speaker is a decent man, a man of high intellect, integrity and character, who cannot descend to the gutter where Hon Abdulmumin Jibrin holds sway. He does not need to do so as the Hon members are adults who can hold their own positions and can defend themselves.”