The former chairman of the appropriation Committee in the House of Representative, Abdulmumin Jibrin, is giving a condition that must be met for him to appear before the Ethics Committee to defend allegations of budget padding he made against principal officers of the House.
After the House referred Honourable Jibrin to the committee for investigation on Wednesday, following deliberations on a motion on the issue, the lawmaker in a statement said he would only obey the decision of the House “if the hearing will be public”.
Members of the House of Representatives unanimously agreed to refer Honourable Jibrin to the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges over what a lawmaker said was a “campaign of calumny and denigration”.
In his the statement Honourable Jibrin said: “I attended the sitting of the House today and carefully observed the proceedings concerning the allegations of budget fraud and corruption I levelled against Speaker Dogara and three other Principal Officers.
“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”.
‘End Of Another Beginning’
Jibrin claimed that the move was an abuse of process and explained that “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.
“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.
“But 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,” the statement read.
He claimed that many members of the House, including himself, completely disagreed with the approach, saying it will mean that the Speaker is superintending over his investigation and that clearly makes him a judge in his own case.
The lawmaker stated that the allegations he raised were too grievous to be reduced to a process he described as “open to manipulation and tele guiding”.
“I will therefore continue to cooperate with the anti-graft agencies who are already investigating the matter and will also proceed to build a massive coalition with Civil Society Organisations and other well-meaning Nigerians to ensure that this matter is not swept under the carpet of the Green Chamber.
“The House of Representatives belongs to Nigerians not only 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 hearing will be public and 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, the investigations and the outcome will not be manipulated or compromised,” the statement further read.
He pointed out that he was ready to appear before the committee “even today if the proceedings will be public”.
He reiterated that the allegations he had raised were against Speaker Dogara, Deputy Speaker Yusuf Lasun, House Whip Alhassan Doguwa, Minority Leader Leo Ogor and few other members and not the Honourable House as an institution.
He said he had to give the names of the those fingered in the allegation to counter what he said was an attempt by the Speaker to drag other institutions and even individuals outside the House into the matter.
In his words: “The bad news for Nigerians is that in the face of such grievous allegations against the Speaker, which members are aware of, and his decision to sit tight, he has become a lame duck Speaker.
“But even more painful is the fact that we will continue to call though in the short run such fraudulent and corrupt persons in Dogara, Lasun, Doguwa and Ogor number four citizen and principal officers of the House respectively”.
The lawmaker further stated that the struggle over the alleged budget padding would continue.