Budget Padding: Battle Shifts To Ethics Committee

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The House of Representatives has referred the embattled former chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, AbdulmuminJibrin to Ethics and Privileges Committee over the allegations he made against the Speaker, Hon Yakubu Dogara and other principal officers.

The House was in rowdy session, yesterday, after the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, delivered his welcome address where he said the House under his leadership will remain accountable to Nigerians and not be distracted despite the allegations against him.

After that, the chairman of the Rules and Business committee, Hon. Emmanuel Orker-Jev raised a point of order under Order 6 Rule 1 (breach of privileges) stating that in spite of people’s opinions and projections on how events will play out on the floor of the house over the budget padding controversy that has trailed the House, “lawmakers will not be seen exchanging blows or trying to snatch the mace.”

Orker-Jev pointed out that following his sack from the position of the chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Jibrin embarked on a campaign of calumny and denigration by making false and scandalous statements and publications in the media against the entire membership and institution of the House of Representatives and National Assembly as an institution.

Orker-Jev cited several statements attributed to Jibrin in which he alleged that the House was a corrupt institution amongst others, noting the he (Jibrin) published statements with the knowledge that the allegations where false and libellous.

“Hon. Jibrin published these words and several others with the knowledge that the allegations therein were false and that they are libellous and defamatory of the members of the House of Representatives and the institution of the House.

“These statements were written, made and published with reckless disregard as to whether or not they were true, thereby scandalising the House and its member.”

Meanwhile, Jibrin has accused Dogara of deploying legislative tactics to deny him of briefing his colleagues on the budget padding allegation.

He also stated   that he would only appear before the House of Committee on Ethics and Privileges, is the proceedings would be conducted as a public hearing.

“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 hearing will be public and will allow the Press, CSOs, NGOs, NLC, ASUU, NANS, NBA and the general public to witness the entire proceedings,” he said.

Abdumumin, who said the Speaker had blackmailed members of the lower chambers to his side, vowed to continue his onslaught against the Speaker.  “The struggle has just began,” he said.

According to Jibrin, “What happened on the floor of the House today is just the end of another beginning. I have never lived with the illusion that this matter will be a sprint, knowing the deeply rooted corrupt interest of a few cabal in the House headed by Speaker Dogara. 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,” he said.

He noted that the Speaker rather than open up the matter for discussion in view of the public interest it has generated deployed some legislative tricks and theatrics to save the day.

“In a move that smacks of abuse of process, Speaker Dogara granted under point of order, an opportunity to the Chairman of Business and Rules Committee who started with a speech then suddenly transited to a motion under privilege – 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,” he added.

He stated further that there is a grand plan  to dilute the on-going external investigation by the Nigerian police and Economic and Financial Crime Commision (EFCC)  and use the Ethics Committee for a soft landing.

“Many members of the House, including myself, completely disagree with this approach because it will mean that the Speaker is superintending over his investigation and that clearly makes him a judge in his own case,” Jibrin added.

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