As the ongoing feud between former chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin and the Speaker Yakubu Dogora heightens with allegations and counter allegations flying around, dirtier allegations are being levelled by both parties.
The ongoing mess has triggered lots of reactions as various groups and even elder statesmen have called for probes and prosecution of those found culpable.
Hon. Jibrin has since Wednesday, July, 20, 2016 (the day after he was sacked as chairman) been issuing allegations that borders on corruption and budget padding against the Speaker, Deputy Speaker Hon. Yusuf Sulaimon Lasun, the Chief Whip Hon. Ado Garba Alhassan and the Minority Leader Hon. Ogor Leonard Okuweh, all whom have denied the allegations.
Reacting to the five day ultimatum given to him by Dogara to retract his statement and apologise, Jibrin said Dogara’s action are predictable and his lawyers have officially approached the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) towards working out a date for him to personally submit his petition against Speaker Dogara, Deputy Speaker Lasun, Whip Doguwa and Minority Leader Ogor.
Meanwhile reactions have continued to trail the saga :
Transparency Group of the House of Representatives
The ‘Transparency Group’ of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, July 27, 2016, called for an investigation of Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Abdulmumin Jibrin and others principal officers mentioned in the allegation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged padding of the 2016 budget.
Rep. Musa Soba (APC-Kaduna ) who Spoke for the Group claimed that about 113 signatures had been collected from lawmakers from the six geopolitical zones and across party lines before their break.
He said: “We call for an external investigation into the matter with a view of finding out if our principal officers are guilty or not. For this group, we say the budget was padded and as such, the budget being a document that belongs to all Nigerians, it is no longer an internal affair. We urge the leadership of the House of Representatives to stop presenting the 2016 budget padding allegations as the problem of the entire House. Let those at the centre of the controversy answer to all the allegations made against them individually and collectively in line with legal practice and our criminal justice system.
“While we do not hold brief for Hon. Jibrin and we do not claim to be speaking for the entire House, we are of the view that Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas has no mandate of the Honourable House to speak on its behalf on the allegations made by Hon. Jibrin against some principal officers and presiding officers of the House (Speaker and Deputy speaker). The allegations against the officers mentioned were not allegations against the entire House but against the mentioned officers of the House in their individual capacity and as such, they can only speak for themselves through their respective spokespersons not through the spokesman of the entire House. Accordingly, we hereby dissociate ourselves from all statements made by Hon. Namdas in respect of the budget padding controversy.
“It is also an abuse of legislative ethics and privileges by the very individuals that are supposed to be the custodians of the laws of the land. Let those at the centre of the controversy answer to all the allegations made against them individually and collectively in line with legislative practice and our criminal justice system”.
Former Military Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon
A former Military Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd.) at the Health Caravan and Award ceremony at Ile Ife in Osun State held on Wednesday, July 27, 2016, called for prosecution of anyone found guilty in the padding scandal currently rocking the House of Representatives.
Gowon said: “If that is true, if anybody is doing that (budget padding), the person should be checked and stopped to ensure that such does not occur in the future. We didn’t it do it during my time. We had Chief Obafemi Awolowo in-charge of our finance during my time and he taught us to survive without borrowing. Such (budget padding) should stop, there is no point doing that.
“Let the current authority find a way out of the current economic crisis. Minister of Finance Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has been telling us what they have been doing to get the economy strong again. She said all will be well by September. Let’s wait till then.
“I left government a long time ago, so I may not really know what the problem is. The current administration should do whatever they can to solve to economic challenges. They should find a way to restore confidence in the citizens and the nation at large by fixing the economy.”
Afenifere: Pan Yoruba socio-cultural organisation Afenifere yesterday In a communique read to reporters by its Publicity Secretary Mr. Yinka Odumakin at the residence of its leader Chief Rueben Fasoranti, in Akure, the Ondo State capital called for “an intensive probe” of allegations of budget paddling against Speaker Yakubu Dogara, his deputy Yusuff Lasun, Chief Whip Al-hassan Ado Doguwa and Minority Leader Leo Ogor.
The allegations and counter-allegations being raised, the group said, showed that “there is corruption in the National Assembly.”
It urged the Federal Government to ensure that the money recovered from politicians and some public servants were spent on Nigerians’ welfare.
Civil Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)
The Civil Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in a press release made available yesterday (Wednesday, July 27, 2016) through its Executive Director of the centre Auwal Musa Rafsanjani called on the National Assembly to come clean on the various scandals continues to bedevil and distract her and continues to dent her image in the estimation of citizens.
The group said the recent revelations by the erstwhile Chairman of the Appropriation Committee of the House of Representatives are further exposure of the institutional fraud that has characterized the NASS over the years.
“We note that such practices have been going on for a long time as the NASS has been known, in the past, to in addition to padding the budget at the point of defence, made dubious inclusions of Constituency Projects as well as have demanded and received inducement for sectorial allocation, the Fabian Osuji calls to mind. They are also known to have, at some time, alledgedly received or demanded for gratifications in exchange for ministerial confirmation and extorted money from MDAs under the guise of oversight functions.
“We find this allegations coming at a time when issues of Senate Rules forgeries are still on-going as one scandal too many trailing the legislative arm and endangering integrity, confidence and honour that is crucial for the legislature to perform and deepen our democracy,”
The group called on the “ICPC, Code of Conduct Bureau and other related statutory bodies to undertake further inquest in the allegations with a view to carrying out in-depth and vigorous investigations within the framework of their enabling laws to get to the root of this matter and bring culprits to book where possible to serve as a deterrent for the future.”
SERAP drags House of Representatives to the United Nations
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), on Wednesday, July 27, 2016, dragged the House of Representatives to the United Nations, UN over the corruption and budget padding scandal rocking the House, according to a report by the Whistler.
The human rights group is seeking an explanation from the House on the allegations of budget padding against the Speaker, Hon Yakubu Dogara and three principal officers.
In a petition dated July 27 to Prof. Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights and signed by its Executive Director, Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni in Lagos, SERAP said that the world body should wade into the matter.
The petition urged Alston to “use your good offices and position to urgently request the leadership of the House of Representatives of Nigeria to explain the alleged deliberate padding of the 2016 budget to the tune of N481 billion.
“Removal of critical projects and replacement of such projects with constituency projects, which have not only undermined the fight against corruption in the country, but also exacerbated extreme poverty and violations of internationally recognized human rights.
“SERAP is seriously concerned about the lack of transparency and accountability of the National Assembly which is not consistent with the behaviour of an institution that is constitutionally mandated to make laws for the nation.
“SERAP is concerned that the long standing practice of constituency projects by the National Assembly of Nigeria and the corresponding alleged diversion of public funds have continued to systematically drained the country’s maximum available resources.
“Alleged budget padding and abuse of office by the leadership of the House of Representatives in particular and the National Assembly in general has uneven consequences on the vulnerable groups of the society, including the poor, women and children, perpetrating and institutionalizing discrimination.”
– Olalekan Olonilua for encomium.ng