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Jibrin Absent As Ethics Committee Commences Investigative Hearing Into Budget Padding Allegations

The House of Representatives Committee on Ethics and Privileges on Friday commenced its investigative hearing into the allegations levelled against the former Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Abdulmumin Jibrin.

The Chairman of the Committee, Nicholas Ossai, is presiding over the session, but Jibrin is not present at the hearing.

This comes barely 48 hours after the House mandated the Ethics committee to probe allegations of misconduct against the former Appropriations Committee chairman.

Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin, had openly accused Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, of padding the budget and asked that he and three other principal officers step aside..

Jibrin, an All Progressives Congress lawmaker from Kano State, claimed in a statement that he was being victimised by the Speaker because he objected to a request Dogara made that he (Jibrin) should allocate projects worth N40bn to him in the 2016 budget.

He alleged that the projects would have been shared among four principal officers, namely, Dogara; the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Yussuff Lasun; the Whip, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; and the Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor.

Jibrin, who demanded the immediate resignation of Dogara and the three other principal officers, added that the four met and took the “unilateral” decision to request the inclusion of the N40bn projects in the budget.

According to Jibrin, when he was approached by the four with the information, he declined to oblige them in a bid to assert the independence of his committee.

He said the N40bn was to have come from the N100bn earmarked for the constituency projects of all lawmakers.

Jibrin said, “These members of the body of principal officers were not comfortable with my independent disposition and my refusal to cover up their unilateral decision to allocate to themselves N40bn out of the N100bn allocated to the entire National Assembly.

Meanwhile, in a statement issued yesterday, the former chairman of the House of Representatives’ Finance and Appropriation committee, Honourable Abdulmumin Jibrin has vowed not to appear before the Ethics Committee unless the proceedings are made public.

The statement read: “The House belongs to Nigerians, not the 360 members! Despite all these and since I can substantiate the allegations I raised with cogency, I will take up the opportunity provided by the Ethics committee to state my case under the condition that the proceedings will be public and the Ethics committee will allow the Press, CSOs, NGOs, NLC, ASUU, NANS, NBA and the general public to witness the entire proceedings.

“This is the only way that I can have the comfort and confidence that the proceedings and outcome will not be manipulated or compromised. I am ready to appear before the committee even today if the proceedings will be public.”

Jibrin also accused the House leadership especially the Speaker of the House, Honourable Yakubu Dogara of trying to cover-up “the allegations of budget fraud and corruption.”

He stated: “I attended the sitting of the House today and carefully observed the proceedings concerning the allegations of budget fraud and corruption. But rather than open up the matter for discussion in view of the public interest it has generated and allow me to brief my colleagues, an opportunity I have been denied for several months, Mr Speaker deployed some legislative tricks and theatrics to save the day.

“In a move that smacks of abuse of process, Mr Speaker granted point of order, an opportunity to the Chair of Business and Rules Committee who started with a speech then suddenly transited to a motion under – a clear case of manipulation and gross abuse of the House rule.

“This is the easiest resort since the attempts to secure a vote of confidence had woefully failed. The motion was therefore passed and referred to the Committee on Ethics and Privilege with one week to submit its report.

“The grand plan is to dilute the ongoing external investigation by the police and EFCC and use the Ethics Committee for a soft landing.

“I have never lived with the illusion that this matter will be a sprint, knowing the corrupt interest of a few cabals in the House; I have all the stamina and agility to go the marathon and ensure justice is served. I have said repeatedly I stand by my allegations and will continue this struggle to expose the 2016 budget fraud and corruption in the House even if I am alone.

“The approach will mean that the Speaker is superintending over his investigation and that clearly makes him a judge in his own case. The allegations are too grievous to be reduced to such process open to manipulation and tele-guiding.

“I will therefore continue to cooperate with the anti-graft agencies who are already investigation the matter. I will also proceed to build a massive coalition with CSO & well-meaning Nigerians to ensure that this matter is not swept under the carpet.

“Predictably, in his speech, Mr Speaker tried to drag the House into the matter to give the impression that the entire House is the accused. I wish to state for the umpteenth times that the allegations are against Dogara, Lasun, Doguwa, Ogor and few others; NOT the entire House.

“You will recall that Mr Speaker had tried unsuccessfully in the past to drag other institutions and individuals into this matter. It will be tragic if the House condones a situation where some few corrupt members will commit offence and then use the institution of the House as a shield to evade justice. This is the script Speaker Dogara is trying to implement.

“It is a known fact that the Speaker was able to rally support at the caucus meetings he organized by applying heavy blackmail on members. I wish to call on members to be courageous and live above such blackmail & deal urgently and decisively with these individual allegations.

“Anything short of this, will drag the entire House into a scandal that it has never witnessed. This is what the Speaker & his cabals want. Typical of a drowning person, he wants everybody to go down with him. We must not allow ourselves to fall into his trap.

“The bad news is that in the face of such grievous allegations on Mr Speaker, which members are aware of, and his decision to sit tight, the Speaker has become a lame duck. But more painfully is that we will continue to call them Principal officers though in the short run. Let me use this opportunity to reassure Nigerians that the struggle has just begun and there is no going back.”

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