Budget Saga: Reps Demand Probe, Trial Of Dogara, Others | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Budget Saga: Reps Demand Probe, Trial Of Dogara, Others

Ousseini, Dogara & Buhari
Posted: Jul 28, 2016 at 4:31 am   /   by   /   comments (0)
  • Speaker Gives Jibrin Seven-Day Ultimatum To Retract Allegations
  • Sacked Committee Chairman Adamant, Releases List Of committees’ Chairmen On N284bn Scam


Ahmed Musa

Abuja – Division of lawmakers in the House of Representatives on how best to handle the ongoing controversy emanating from allegations of budget padding and abuse of office against the House Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, and three of his colleagues has continued to widen.

This is following the demand by a group of lawmakers in the House called ‘Transparency Group’ on Wednesday that the allegation bordering on padding of the 2016 budget raised by Abdulmumin Jibrin, former chairman, House Committee on Appropriations, must be prosecuted by relevant security and anti-corruption agencies since it is a national issue.

According to the spokesman of the group, Hon. Musa Soba (APC, Kaduna), over 113 lawmakers have so far appended their signature to protest against the budget padding, just as he chided the speaker for failing to yield to the group’s agitation earlier before the passage of the budget.

The group, which called for the involvement of anti-graft agencies as external investigators in the alleged padding, also adopted the queries raised by the National Assembly Budget Research Office (NABRO) which highlighted several infractions on the budget.

The Group specifically disassociated itself from the press briefing held by the chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Abdulrasak Namdas (APC, Adamawa),  on Tuesday, in which he stated that actions allegedly taken by the speaker was not criminal, stressing that those accused alongside the speaker and other accused principal officers should be left to clear their names.?

Musa Soba (APC-Kaduna), who spoke on behalf of the Group, specifically frowned at what he called “Speaker Dogara’s lackadaisical attitude” towards the Group’s earlier demand to sack Jibrin, who they accused of having overriding interest on the budget.

The aggrieved lawmakers, who spoke at a press briefing at the National Assembly complex, Abuja, therefore urged relevant security agencies and anti-corruption agencies to probe all the parties mentioned in the scandal including staff of Appropriations Committee and Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) involved in the budgetary process with a view to unraveling and nipping in the bud their criminal tendencies.

Consequently, he disclosed that the group had earlier embarked on collection of signatures to protest against the passage of the budget without explaining the breakdown of the budget details before it was eventually passed through third reading.

Lawmakers in the group who include Lawal Yahaya (APC, Bauchi); Yusuf Ikara (APC, Kaduna); Baballe Bashir (APC, Kano) and Abubakar Chika (APC, Niger) vowed that the group will petition the relevant security agencies if Nigerians and the Federal Government failed to take necessary action to probe the grievous allegations leveled against the lawmakers.

They said if allegation of forgery of the Senate Standing Rule was not handled internally they see no reason why anybody would want to handle allegations bordering on the manipulation and inflation of national budget as internally as been canvassed by some lawmakers loyal to the accused members.

Meanwhile, the media war arising from corruption allegations levelled against the speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and three of his colleagues may soon shift to the courts following a seven-day ultimatum given to Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin by the speaker to tender an unreserved public apology to him and retract all allegations made against him or face legal action.?

According to a statement issued on Wednesday by the Special Adviser to the Speaker on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Turaki Hassan, Dogara has written a letter through his counsel, Professor Joash Ojo Amupitan (SAN) & Co to Jibrin demanding immediate retraction and public apology.

The letter, according to the statement, entitled ‘Request for a Retraction and an Apology of a Libelous Press Statement Issued by you on Monday 25th July, 2016′, noted that “the claims of the former appropriations chairman, who was removed for padding the budget and other actions, that the speaker is corrupt and abuses his office is aimed at tarnishing his image at home and abroad and is a clear case of libel”.

The letter by the law firm which quoted copiously from Jibrin’s statement of Monday, July 25 reads in part: “We act as solicitors to Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Three Arm Zone National Assembly Complex, Abuja, herein after referred to as ‘our client’ and on whose instructions we write this letter to you.

“The attention of our client has been drawn to a libellous press statement you issued on Monday 25th July 2016 which was made available to members of the press (print and electronic media) titled “The Corrupt Speaker Yakubu Dogara and his 3-Man Cabal’.

“In the said publication, you published words to the following effect concerning our client and three other principal members of the House of Representatives-

Honourable colleagues and fellow Nigerians, I wish to make further revelations.


“Speaker Yakubu Dogara and his senior cabal namely Deputy Speaker Lasun, Whip Doguwa and Minority leader Ogor has (sic) promoted corruption so badly in the House that if President Muhammadu Buhari with his disdain for corruption and corrupt people have the slightest idea, he will ban the quartet permanently from the Villa before they eventually allow for proper and unbiased investigation by the House.

“Mr. Speaker and Deputy Speaker Yusuf Lasun diverted millions of naira all in the name of paying for guest houses and official residence. The issue became so messy that the deputy speaker openly accused Hon Herman Hembe of short changing them of millions of naira in the deal to the shock of many Hon members.

“Speaker Yakubu Dogara frequently abuses his office amounting to conflict of interest by soliciting for inappropriate favours from agencies and multinational companies. He forced an agency to grant loans and a construction company blackmailed to do some work at his Asokoro ‘plot’.

“Speaker Yakubu Dogara has carefully designed a scheme to scam Hon members through deduction from their salaries certain amount of money for a so called mortgage arrangements to build houses for members. He has been applying every under hand tactics to ensure members agree to the deal.

“Speaker Yakubu Dogara has consistently refused members access to the financial dealings and internal budget of the House. He runs the financial management of the House like a cult aided and abated by the chairman, House Services, Hon Babanlle Ila. It is no longer news that all over the House, Hon members are aware of the monumental fraud perpetrated by Speaker Yakubu Dogara in this regard.

“We are even told that this is a child’s play compared to the mess and allegations of money laundering he left behind as chairman, House Services in both the 6th and 7th Assembly. The EFCC should have something to start working with in respect to his tenure as chairman, House Services if they properly dust their files.

“These members of the body of principal officers were not comfortable with my independent disposition and my refusal to cover up their unilateral decision to allocate to themselves N40 billion out of the N100 billion allocated to the entire National Assembly.

“The four of them met and took that decision, in addition to billions of wasteful projects running to over N20 billion, they allocated to their constituencies. They must come out clean. My inability to admit into the budget almost N30 billion personal requests from Mr. Speaker and the three other principal officers, also became an issue”, it said.

Continuing, the firm said: “The personal references are obviously directed at our client, and amount to a very serious libel.

“By the said publication and without putting to the public any shred of evidence, our client is portrayed as a criminal, corrupt, dishonest, fraudulent, dishonourable and unfit to hold the position of speaker of House of Representatives.

“Our client’s reputation has further been brought down in the estimation of right thinking members of the society and he has been thrown into public opprobrium, odium, scorn and ridicule.

“Consequently, we consider your publication on the matter as not only libellous but made in bad faith; an act of vendetta owing to your recent removal as the chairman of House Committee on Appropriation.

“The said publication is also aimed at causing disaffection between Nigerians and members of the House of Representatives.

“Sequel to the above, we have to request you to submit immediately to us a clear and unqualified apology and retraction of the publication in an equally conspicuous position in all the print and electronic media where the publication appeared.

“Take notice that in the event of your failure/refusal to comply with the above mentioned demands within seven (7) days of your receipt of this letter, we have further instructions to institute a suit against you in a court of law.

“If we have to pursue this course, we shall be claiming aggravated and exemplary damages”, the letter signed by the firm’s Principal Partner, Professor Joash Ojo Amupitan (SAN), stressed.

However, Hon. Jibrin has reacted to Dogara’s ultimatum, describing it as a ploy to use the House rules that prevent it from entertaining matters before the court.

In a series of tweets by the former chairman, appropriation, he said: “Speaker Dogara has threatened legal action on me. Quite predictable. I know he will rush to court in order to invoke the House rules that matter in court cannot be heard on the floor.

“He failed to realise that the law is not intended to protect corrupt people. It is such a shame. I have responded to their allegations rather than respond to mine, he is rushing to court. I stand by my allegations and will not withdraw them!

“I am happy to announce that my lawyers have officially approached the EFCC and the ICPC towards working out a date for me to personally submit my petition against Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Deputy Speaker Yusuf Lasun, Whip Alhassan Doguwa and Minority Leo Ogor.

“I believe once a date is agreed with the anti-corruption agencies we would have begun the process of making these characters pay for abusing their office”, he said.

It would be recalled that Jibrin has in the wake of his removal as chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, been making series of allegations bordering on abuse of office and corruption perpetrated by Speaker Yakubu Dogara and his Deputy, Yussuff Lasun and two other principal officers of the House, Minority Leader Leo Ogor and Chief Whip Alhassan Ado Doguwa.