Budget padding: 10 principal officers disown Jibrin

The Body of Principal Officers of the House of Representatives said on Thursday that the decision to sack its former Chairman, Committee on Appropriation, Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin, was a collective action.

They also disassociated themselves from Jibrin and his recent allegations

It said Jibrin was sacked in response to agitation by the majority of members after they discovered that he abused the 2016 budget.

The principal officers also noted that the budget would have suffered more abuse in the hands of Jibrin had the House, the Senate and a team from the Executive not met to retrieve it from the former chairman.

They explained that the rescue mission started after various Ministries, Departments and Agencies complained of being harassed by Jibrin.

It was the first time the principal officers came out boldly as a body to disown Jibrin since he began his budget-padding allegations against Dogara and three of the principal officers on July 21.

All 10 principal officers of the House signed the document.

They are Dogara; Deputy Speaker, Yussuff Lasun; Majority Leader, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila; Chief Whip, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; Deputy Leader, Buba Jibril; Deputy Whip, Pally Iriase; Minority Leader, Leo Ogor; Deputy Minority Leader, Chukwuka Onyeama; Deputy Minority Leader, Yakubu Barde; and Deputy Minority Whip, Binta Bello-Maigeri.

They described Jibrin’s allegations as “wild” and “baseless.”

The joint statement by the principal officers, read in part, “The proponent (of budget-padding), the recently sacked Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, sought to make allegations of impropriety against  the leadership of the House over the process and content of the 2016 budget passed by the National Assembly and signed into law.

“While the leadership is determined to ensure that absolute diligence, maturity and due process are employed in dealing with the allegations, instead of joining the accuser in a press war, it is important to state, in the interest of the agitated public, that the allegations are wild,  baseless and unfounded.

“Good enough, all the said allegations raise issues that can be easily verified and the public will be availed ample opportunity upon the resumption of the House.

“In the meantime, however, the leadership of the House of Representatives wishes to reaffirm that it took collective action, in conjunction with the Senate and a team from the Executive, to rescue the 2016 Budget when it became obvious that the former appropriation Chairman had placed both the document and the process in jeopardy resulting in a spate of agitation from Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

“Furthermore, the decision to relieve the erstwhile Appropriation Chairman of his position was a collective decision of the leadership in response to unrelenting pressures from the overwhelming majority of Honourable members who were irked by the former Chairman’s gross abuse of the budget process.

“Both actions were taken in the best interest of the institution and the nation for which we take full responsibility.

“Truth may be slow but it usually always wins the race in the end. We have no doubts.”

The development came as Jibrin said on Thursday that he stood by his allegations against Dogara, Lasun; Ado-Doguwa and  Ogor.

Jibrin, in a statement in Abuja, said he believed Dogara and the three other officials would soon be arrested by anti-graft agencies and charged for corruption.

He said this would be as a result of the petitions he submitted to the agencies against them.

Jibrin, who insisted that he stood by his allegations, claimed that many Nigerians had expressed support for his campaign and were worried that Dogara had yet to be arrested.

“For the avoidance of doubt, let me restate that I have interacted severally with anti-corruption agencies.

“It is however heartwarming to know that they are indeed working meticulously on the matter.

“I have little doubt that they will do justice expeditiously and sooner than letter, we will get to the point where every Nigerian is waiting for — the arrest of Speaker Dogara …”

Jibrin alleged that the Speaker had not been charged because he was using his position to obstruct “justice.”

He added, “Nigerians must remain vigilant because Speaker Dogara is using his office to obstruct and neutralise investigation.

“He is also using same and the time he has now before the long arm of the law catches up with him to hurriedly clean up the mess on his desk, spend money on all sort of consultants and people he thinks can help him out through subterranean means.

“On our side, while waiting for the response of our great party, the All Progressives Congress, on my letter, we are reaching out to everyone or group that can support this worthy cause against Dogara-Gate, the biggest corruption case in the history of our country.”

The speaker’s office said it had responded sufficiently to Jibrin’s allegations.

“Please, refer to our earlier statements on Jibrin,” the Speaker’s Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Turaki Hassan, said.