Jibrin Was Given Fair Hearing Before His Suspension – Namdas | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Jibrin Was Given Fair Hearing Before His Suspension – Namdas

Jibrin, Namdas, House of Representatives
Posted: Oct 2, 2016 at 11:57 am   /   by   /   comments (2)

Honourable  Abdulrazak Sa’ad Namdas is the Chairman, Media and Public Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives. He was a guest on Channelstv at the weekend where he spoke on the 180 days suspension slammed on former Chairman House Committee on Appropriation, Honourable  Abdulmumin Jibrin  by the House. TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI monitored the session and brings the excerpts:

The House of Representatives last week suspended Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin. For some people they said they are not surprised because they know that the House is not going to act differently. What do you say to that?

I think for us in the National Assembly, we have stated repeatedly that we have rules and we have followed the rules.  As far as we are concerned, if you feel there is something that is wrong, you come to the institution and make your grievance known.  If these grievances are not addressed, you are not the only person in the House.  Some people can then speak for you and people get to know that this person is not treated fairly.  But as far as I know, Abdulmumin Jibrin only feel that he has more confidence in the institutions that are outside the  House and that was why he didn’t approach the House when he felt aggrieved. He had some petitions outside the institutions and I can’t talk about what happen outside the institutions. As far as we are concerned, we gave him fair hearing. Section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) allows for us to give somebody an opportunity and he (Jibrin) had the opportunity to tell Nigerians based on the allegations. He even wrote a letter to the Chairman of the committee requesting certain conditions for his appearance, saying if it is not public, he will not appear before the committee.  That was granted. Apart from that, he came forward to make another allegation, that the chairman of the committee is not fair because he made some comments in the media.  The chairman also went on air and said ‘if you feel aggrieved, there is nothing wrong with that.  Just come to the committee and make your statement. I will step aside and another person can preside over the matter’.  He didn’t come. On the day he was given to appear, the committee adjourned for 30 minute to know maybe he will come. Text messages were sent to him and calls were made to his phones. So, I think in my opinion, and in the opinion of the House, we have done what is expected of us.

Don’t you think the one week given to the committee to do their job is very limited?

I think it is not limited. The most essential thing is that he who alleges must prove. You have to come and prove what you have been telling Nigerians all this while, wild allegations that cannot be substantiated.  We felt that somebody cannot come here and say every Nigerian is corrupt just like somebody said that the entire NASS are corrupt; investigative hearing is corrupt, oversight functions is embedded in corruption. Now, we have to also clear our names and that was why we asked him to come forward. I think it is not the issue of timeframe. Let him appear before the committee.  The committee was made public. Media organisations were there.  Civil society organisations were there. And these were the conditions he made.  So, it is not the issue of time but on the fact that are you going to be treated fairly?  Are people going to see that you are not victimized? And that is what I think is very essential. As far as we are concerned, the time frame is okay. If he had appeared and there is no time, it is a different thing altogether. But he didn’t appear before the committee.

Are you saying the work of the committee wasn’t rushed and there was sufficient time for it to investigate the allegations raised by Honourable Jibrin?

It wasn’t rushed but let us be very clear.  The allegations before the House are not about all those things that he raised. We said that our collective privilege has been breached based on our own Act,  there is no way someone will come and give you a blanket statement that everybody in the House is corrupt. There is institutional corruption.

But Honourable Jibrin did say that he did not accuse the House but that he accused specific individuals within the House; that is the leadership of the House…

This is where people are getting it wrong. In the House, he has made a statement. The man who raised the motion and was subsequently referred to the Ethics committee was invited first and he had made presentations. He brought in newspaper publications, CDs where this man made this allegations. If he had come before the committee and he is confronted with these allegations, it is that opportunity he has to say he didn’t say so. But he didn’t appear. What we are concerned about is not the specific allegations he raised against anybody.  I told you here that the House as an institution has a rule. If he had brought those petitions before the House, the House will investigate those petitions as far as we are concerned.  As I speak with you today, there is no petition before the Ethics Committee or any committee in the House in respect of individual allegations.  What happen is that he has made allegations against specific individuals to agencies outside the House such as the EFCC, ICPC, Police  in fact, even Foreign Missions.  It is not our position to discuss what happen in EFCC.  We cannot stop EFCC or ICPC from doing their investigations; it is an external thing but we are talking about laid down rules and regulations of the House.  If that is not done, then there is no fair hearing. Don’t also forget,  even outside the institutions, once you have a case and you feel cheated, you go to court and you appeal your case up to the Supreme Court.  But here, Jibrin did not even avail himself the opportunity he has of telling his colleagues that these are the allegations against Dogara within the House.  What do we investigate now that there are no allegations before us?  It is not for us to talk. EFCC can go ahead and do their investigation but this is not within my power to talk about what is happening in the EFCC.

Will the House not do anything about the specific allegations he raised bordering on criminal activity against the House leadership?

That is what I have been saying. Which specific case are people talking about?  These specific cases you are talking about is not before the House of Representatives.  So, what are we going to investigate?  If the man had believed in the institution, he would have petitioned the institution and this institution will go on with the investigation.  But there is no petition before the House for us to commence investigation. What we also read in the newspapers is that he has submitted petitions to EFCC, ICPC. That is his own position and it is for these agencies to do their investigations; not the House. If there is a petition before the House in respect of the specifics that you are talking about, then,  we will do the investigation. But as I speak, you can call Jibrin to confirm whether he has made  those petitions because he kept saying he does not even believe that we will be judge in our own case and that is why he took the position outside. Now that he has taken the position outside the institution, are we going to collect petition from EFCC to investigate our leaders?  We cannot do that because it has to be before us. Even for EFCC to act on issues, they act based on petitions given to them.  We don’t have such before us. What we have before us is that a colleague of ours who has spent five years in the House has made wild allegations  that all of us in the National Assembly, particularly, the House of Representatives  are corrupt and 359 of us felt aggrieved.  A lot of us wanted to bring motions into the House, in order to clear our name  but the Chairman, Rules and Business  said ‘I cannot allow 359 motions to come before us because we serious situations on ground. We cannot be discussing  Jibrin for the rest of the period.  Therefore, I  on behalf of 359 of you  will speak on your behalf and he brought  specific issues.  The issue before the Ethics committee is about general allegations on us. Specifics are handled by institutions that he believed he can get justice from.

He raised certain allegations against principal officers. But are you saying because he didn’t petition the House, nothing can be done?

Yes, because we cannot investigate what is not before us.  We will not begin our investigations based on newspaper and media reports. In fact, not only the National Assembly, if Jibrin had not petitioned the  EFCC or ICPC,  you don’t expect these two agencies to start their investigations based on what they read in the newspapers.  If people  say we are judges in our own case, we are asking ‘what case are you talking about’? If he believed in this institution, he will bring the allegations to the House. We presented to Jibrin statement that he made about us generally that we are corrupt. We are concerned about  the one he made about us. These are the ones we are presenting to him.  We are confronting him with these facts for him to clear. We are not talking about allegations on any specifics. I am a member of the National Assembly and I am not corrupt. Somebody went to the media and said I am corrupt and I said no, I want to clear my name.

So, how are you able to confirm that he said that? What if he never said that?

That was why he was invited and given the opportunity to come and state whether  he said so or not. If you go before a court and you are asked to prove your case and you failed to do that, what that means is that you are guilty of what you are accused of. If you have the confidence to tell Nigerians that I am corrupt, you should also have the confidence to face me and say it to my face.

Just because he didn’t show up before the committee, the House decided to suspend him for 180 days. Don’t you think that is too stiff?

It is not the issue of stiff. Don’t you think it is also stiff for him to say that we are all corrupt? Punishments are not based on individual thinking; it is based on the Rules and Code of Conduct of the House. When the suspension was handed, the specific rules were even mentioned.
Will you say this was a case of scapegoatism because other members have also raised similar issue within the House and they claimed that the matter was not taken seriously?
Those members who raised the issue, was there a petition in that respect?  They didn’t write any petition before the House for investigation.  As far as I am concerned, there is no petition before the House from any other individual in terms of allegations but the thing is, those who have been speaking about the budget process, when the recommendation of the Ethics committee was to be adopted by the House and the question was put before the House that those in favour should say ‘yes’,  the entire House said ‘yes’.  When they say those against it should say ‘nay’,  not a single person said ‘nay’.

A lawyer said that the House by suspending Honourable Jibrin breached the principle of checks and balances because a court had ruled that you should not take any action against him. Are you saying the court cannot intervene in House matters?
I think he got it wrong. What I said is that we have three arms of government and we have separation of powers. I also agree that there are checks and balances. But the court cannot say ‘don’t take any action on Jibrin’.   The court cannot interpret our actions whether we invalidate or upheld what we did.
In this particular case, due process was followed in the case of Jibrin.  I want to add here that in the National Assembly, when you talk about checks and balances, for example, when a judge was about delivering a judgement, we cannot pass a resolution that he cannot give that judgement . He must give the judgement but the constitution has also given us rules and the powers to implement those rules and the court cannot say we shouldn’t implement those rules. But if we implement it and it is wrongly done, the court has the power to invalidate or uphold it. But in this particular case, I think it was done rightly. I have not said there is no checks and balances. I also did not say that the court can interpret our actions but I am saying the court cannot say we should not implement our actions but if we do that, anybody who is aggrieved can go and get judgement whether for or against the judgement.

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