The house of Representatives Wednesday mandated it’s committee on Ethics and privileges to hear the allegations of budget padding leveled against the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara and 13 other lawmakers by sacked Chairman of the House committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin. Jibrin in this statement he released this evening, says he will ot appear before the house committee unless it’s hearing is made public. His statement below:
I attended the sitting of the House today and carefully observed the proceedings concerning the allegations of budget fraud and corruption I leveled against Speaker Dogara and 3 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.
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.
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.
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. The allegations I raised are too grievous to be reduced to such process open to manipulation and teleguiding. I will therefore continue to cooperate with the anti-graft agencies who are already investigation 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. I am ready to appear before the committee even today if the proceedings will be public. Predictably, in his speech, Mr Speaker tried to drag the entire 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 I raised are against the quartet of Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Deputy Speaker Yusuf Lasun, House Whip Alhassan Doguwa, Minority Leader Leo Ogor and few other members NOT the Honourable House as an institution. You will recall that Mr Speaker had tried unsuccessfully in the past to drag other institutions and even individuals outside the House into this matter. It will be tragic if the House condones a situation where some few corrupt members will commit offense 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 zonal caucus meetings he organized Monday night, applying heavy blackmail on members which involves issues of systemic corruption. I wish to call on members to live above such blackmail and deal urgently and decisively with these allegations of individual corruption by the Speaker and few others. Anything short of this, will drag the entire House into a scandal that it has never witnessed. This is what the Speaker and his few 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 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 painfully 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 4 citizen and principal officers of the House respectively.
Let me use this opportunity to reassure Nigerians that the struggle has just begun.