The budget padding mess fueled by the faceoff between the erstwhile chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin and the Speaker Yakubu Dogara continues its dirty drama as the anti graft agencies have been invited by the leadership of the house to probe all the allegations.
Chairman, House Information Committee, Abdulrazak Namdas, made this call while addressing journalists on Tuesday, July 26, 2016, where he said, the probe should begin from when Jibrin was chairman. He also added that Jibrin’s allegations would be referred to the Committee on Ethics/Privileges for investigation when the House resumes on September 13.
Hon. Jibrin had on Thursday, July 21, 2016, accused the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker Hon. Yusuf Sulaimon Lasun, the Chief Whip Hon. Ado Garba Alhassan and the Minority Leader Hon. Ogor Leonard Okuweh of attempting to pad N30 billion into the 2016 budget.
“Section 80 (4) on the other hand, which confers on the legislature absolute power of control over public funds, states: ‘No money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly’.
“The word manner confers absolute legislative discretion.
“When, therefore, the National Assembly appropriates funds in the budget, it can never under any circumstances or guise be deemed or regarded as tinkering or padding.
“The legislature is therefore constitutionally incapable of padding the budget.
“What the Executive submits are mere estimates and proposal as stipulated in Section 81 (1).
“It is obvious that the Constitution uses the word Estimates advisedly. Consequently, it is therefore an exhibition of crass ignorance, abuse of language, outright mischief and or blackmail for a legislator especially one who chaired the Appropriations Committee to use the word PADDING to describe the action of parliament on the budget.
“The removal, introduction of projects or the amendment of Mr. President’s estimates in the Appropriation Bill cannot be construed as an Act of corruption or impropriety because it is at the core of appropriation powers of the National Assembly as aptly enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.
“It is therefore clear, that no crime or wrong doing can be legitimately imputed on the actions or conduct of Mr. Speaker, the Leadership or Members of the House of Representatives before, during and after the passage of the 2016 Appropriation Bill”.
Namdas also gave reasons for Jibrin’s removal, attributing it to his incompetence and indiscipline.
Namdas added: “Jibrin’s removal was based on sundry acts of misconduct, incompetence, total disregard for his colleagues and abuse of the budgetary process, among others.
“Immaturity and lack of capacity to handle the Office of Chairman, Appropriations:
“One of the fundamental reasons why the House Leadership removed him is that, he was found not to be fit and proper person to hold such a sensitive office which exposes him to high officials of government at all levels.
“Furthermore, in the course of the performance of his duties as Chairman of Appropriations Committee, it became evident that he does not possess the temperament and maturity required for such a high office.
“Tendency and proclivity to blackmail colleagues and high government officials and misuse and mishandle sensitive government information:
“The Leadership lunched an internal investigation into these allegations and was largely satisfied that action had to be taken to remove him, in the interest of the integrity of the House.
“One clear example is the insertion of Funds for the so called Muhammadu Buhari Film Village in his Constituency in Kano State without the consent or solicitation of Mr. President. This has brought both Mr. President and the government to disrepute.
“Again, it was found out that he was fond of inserting projects into prominent persons’ constituencies without their knowledge to curry favour and possibly use it as a means of blackmail against them when necessary.
“One of such is the numerous projects he claimed in a Channels TV interview in April 2016, to have cited in Mr. President’s home town of Daura, Katsina State without Mr. President’s solicitation or knowledge, in a desperate attempt to blackmail Mr. President as an answer and justification for allocation of N4.1b to his constituency when confronted by the interviewer.
“He did not stop there. Hon Abdulmumin went about soliciting Honourable members to nominate projects for him to help them include in the Budget. When called upon to defend his actions as Appropriation’s Chairman, all he did was to be calling names of those members and the amount he helped include for them in the Budget in an unsuccessful bid to silence them.
“Most of the affected members took serious exceptions to his despicable antics and sundry acts of blackmail and protested to the Leadership to prevail on Hon Abdulmumin to expunge from the Budget what he claimed he allocated to them since they did not solicit for those projects”.
Namdas also hinted that the EFCC have been invited to probe Jibrin.
He said: “Confirming some of the reasons for his removal and true to type, Hon Abdulmumin has since after his sack, resorted to blackmail, his stock in trade. He has released documents from dubious sources in a desperate bid to lure gullible members of the public to his side.
“Mr Speaker’s inputs to the 2016 Budget was signed and delivered to him. If he has honour, let him release the signed inputs of Mr Speaker and not pieces of paper that bears no acknowledged authorship.
“Our counsel to Hon Abdulmumin is for him to be real as a man by bringing up credible, authentic and verifiable documents or stubborn facts which disclose the commission of crime on the part of any Member or Leader of the House.
“If he can’t, then let him go and sulk in secret over his sack.
“The Leadership was also in receipt of complaints about his activities as Chair of Finance Committee in the 7th Assembly, which had potentials to embarrass the House.
“Investigations found that from 2011 – 2015 Hon Abdulmumin domiciled with Hadejia – Jama’are River Basin Authority and few other MDAs some of the allocations meant for his former Finance Committee members.
“He was alleged to have aided the use of front companies that collected funds without executing most of the projects.
“The Projects have been compiled and will be referred to the Anti Graft Agencies to establish why the projects were fully paid for and not executed, who collected the funds and why has Hon Abdulmumin not raised any alarm about the non execution of the projects even now?”.
Jibrin in his response on Tuesday, July 26, 2016, continued his onslaught against the Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Deputy Speaker Hon. Yusuf Sulaimon Lasun, the Chief Whip Hon. Ado Garba Alhassan and the Minority Leader Hon. Ogor Leonard Okuweh.
He challenged them to come out and defend themselves.
He asked; “Why did you take the decision to fraudulently shortchange the House by taking away N40 billion out of the N100 billion allocated for constituency projects and distributing same to yourself and others without the approval of the House?
”Why did you approach the former House Appropriation Chairman with written personal requests and list of about N30 billion to be inserted into the 2016 budget and his inability to get that done caused a major rift between you all and him?
“Why did you insert wasteful projects for your various constituencies worth about 20billion naira despite the former appropriation chairman professional advice against such?
“Why did you ignore his complaint to you that just about 10 standing committees of the House inserted over 2000 projects worth 284 billion naira?
“Why did you take away the Appropriation Committee secretariat on two occasions where several insertions were made into the budget which created avoidable tension during the budget process?
“Why did you direct the former Appropriation Chair which he rejected to create a strange line item in the service wide vote to allow for a 20 billion naira insertion into the budget under the name of NASS using a former PDP Senator and top politician?
“Why did you abuse your office in a conflict of interest directed an agency to grant loans and a construction company to work on your Asokoro plot and arrange frequent private meetings with heads of MDA’s?
“Why did you allocate to yourselves the entire 20% inputs reserved for the House after the harmonization exercise?
“How much did you collect for rent of house and guests houses and how much did Hon Herma Hembe steal from the money that caused the outburst of Lasun?
“Why are you trying to drag the entire House and illegally using the official spokesman of the House into allegations that were made on you and the three others only?
“Why did you consistently block the former chairman appropriation from briefing Hon members and denied him his right to be heard by his colleagues on this matter?
“Why did you scuttle his effort and Sen Goje’s to assist Mr. President after working so hard consulting ministers on the budget out of envy and vindictiveness that Mr. President granted them audience without you?
“Why did you insist and ensured that the immunity clause for the House principal officers is inserted into our agenda despite huge resistance from members and the general public?
“Why did you connive with 5 other members of the House to use some elements of the Nigerian police and thugs in an attempt to blackmail, kidnap, intimidate and silence him and his family?
“Why are you desperately going round media houses offering money to silent the statements of the former appropriation chairman?
“Why has it taken you this long to put together such a lame story of why you “sacked” the former appropriation chairman after admitting on national TV that he resigned?
“Is it true that you left a huge mess and allegations of money laundering against you as chairman House services both in the 6th and 7th House?
“Why have you refused to open up the financial dealings and details of internal budget of the House to your colleagues, Hon members?
“Why do you have problems with reconvening the House immediately to allow an independent investigation on the allegations?”