Budget Padding: We Won’t Sanction Dogara, Jibrin – APC | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Budget Padding: We Won’t Sanction Dogara, Jibrin – APC

Dogara Begged Us To Forgive Budget Padding – Jibrin
Posted: Aug 12, 2016 at 4:32 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

*Resign Now, Sagay Tells  Dogara

*More Reps Back Dogara


Temidayo Akinsuyi Lagos and Ahmed Musa Abuja


The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has ruled out the possibility of sanctioning the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and the former chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmuminin Jibrin, over allegations of budget padding.

The APC Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Lawal Shuaibu, told journalists in Abuja that although the party constitution empowers the party to take certain steps on the matter, it will not play the role of a law enforcement agency.

He said, “Article 7, subsection 5 of APC constitution gives us the power to do certain things. So, you see, what we are doing is the right thing. But only we don’t want that in the public gallery.”

While ruling out the possibility of imposing sanction on the feuding duo, Shuaibu added, “What is padding? The party does not sanction anybody on that. What is of concern to us is where any member contravenes the party constitution in his conduct.

“That is why I refer you to Article 7, subsection 5 of our party constitution. We are not a law enforcement organisation. We don’t enforce law. We only ensure that the constitution is complied with. All members of the party are answerable to the party and answerable to their constituency.

“The two members that are subjected to this are elected or appointed members of the party including those that are holding public office. So, you expect the party to sit down and watch. No. We have to do our work. So, the question of sweeping anything under the carpet does not arise at all. But we don’t want to do it in the market place, but at the party secretariat.”

However, constitutional lawyer and chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), said Dogara cannot continue to occupy his position given the catastrophic scandal he is currently enmeshed in over allegations of budget padding.

Also speaking in an interview with Independent, a Lagos-based constitutional lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, said the directive from the APC barring Dogara and Jibrin from making public comments is embarrassing.

Sagay, who said the allegations are worth investigating, however, absolved the APC of allegations of trying to cover up corruption when it asked those involved in the scandal to refrain from making further comments.

“Yes. I think Dogara should resign just as I said Saraki should have resigned long ago. This is a major scandal. You cannot have that kind of catastrophic scandal on your neck and you are still presiding over the affairs of the country as the number four citizen and head of the legislative house. The two are not compatible”.

“I won’t say the APC is trying to cover up corruption. We have to look at it from the point of view of the party based on party unity and solidarity. But that doesn’t mean that corruption will not be involved. Everybody sees things from different angles.

“My view is that anybody who is trying to make money, divert or misapply money in a manner that is not straightforward shows an element of corruption and it is worth investigating. There is no question about that.

“But Nigerians should not expect his own party to now come out with that type of statement. I believe they are looking at it from their point of view as a party and there is nothing wrong with that. There is element of impropriety and possible corruption in trying to pad and divert huge funds for your own private use, money that is not officially approved. To me, there is an element of corruption in that”, he said.

In his remark, Ogunye said the order from the APC barring those involved in the scandal to stop making public comments amounts to violating the rights of its members on freedom of speech.

According to him, the party should have openly declared support for a thorough investigation into the matter so that Nigerians can know the truth on what actually transpired.

Meanwhile, more reactions have continued to trail the controversy surrounding the budget padding allegation in the House of Representatives and the call by some lawmakers that Speaker Yakubu Dogara must reconvene the House and resign.

To this end, more Reps members have decided to voice out their support for the Dogara-chaired leadership of the House, saying that the speaker and other accused principal officers have not committed any offence to warrant such calls.

The speaker’s support base which is cutting across party lines is putting to rest speculations that only PDP lawmakers are the ones backing him, and that his APC colleagues are under some external influence to remove the Bauchi-born lawmaker.

Speaking in Abuja on Thursday, an APC lawmaker from Kano State, and chairman, House Committee on Tertiary Education, Hon. Aminu Suleiman, said that there’s no basis for anybody to say that the speaker should resign since he or the House as a body has not committed any offence by virtue of legislative duties performed with regard to the 2016 budget as attested to by the presidency.

“I’m happy that the presidency has said that the budget was not padded. But then there are people who have perpetual disdain for the National Assembly, who celebrate crisis, who pray for crisis and use it to cast aspersions on lawmakers.

“However, the word padding is not normal as it affects legislative processes of passing the budget. We are empowered to decide what goes where in the budget which is why the executive brings the document to us as an estimate of expenditure.

“It’s in our place as National Assembly to deal with the budget, determine what should be where and return it to the president. And if he disagrees with us and we know that what we have done is right, the law also gives us the power to override his veto after 30 days.”

On the call for Dogara’s resignation, he said: “I don’t understand, but everybody has a right to call for anything, but whether the call is realistic or not is up to them to prove why they should ask the speaker to go.

“Personally, I haven’t been approached by anybody for anything, and if there’s any group trying to get anything done regarding this call for resignation, they won’t even come to me because they already know where I stand as a person.

“That’s why they won’t approach me. But then, there’s no basis for any acrimony that would give room for enemies of the National Assembly to feast on and try to destabilise what hitherto has been a peaceful and very productive House”, he stressed.

Also speaking on the issue, another lawmaker from Lagos, Hon. Oghene Egoh, who is of the PDP, said if the legislature cannot remove or add in the process of appropriation, there would be no basis for the president to submit the budget to it in the first place.

“One thing that has surprised me is that a lot of educated people, journalists, lawyers and the rest don’t seem to understand legislative function. Padding is part of legislative process, because it’s through padding one can satisfy his or her constituents.

“Even the executive does padding. If not, how do you think the president is able to get allocations for the road that leads to his area?”