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Budget Padding Scandal: Jibrin talks tough, vows to upturn suspension in court

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Budget Padding Scandal: Jibrin talks tough, vows to upturn suspension in court

NEWISSUES, Abuja

Following his suspension by the House of Representatives, Abdulmumin Jibrin, on Wednesday night said he would seek redress in court.

The House on Wednesday afternoon slammed 180 legislative days —a full session— suspension on Mr. Jibrin after being found guilty of violating ethics and privileges of lawmakers.

Mr. Jibrin through his widely publicised allegations of budget fraud against the Speaker of the House and over a dozen other lawmakers had stirred controversies and subjected the House to public scrutiny since July.

But the lawmaker remained defiant, saying he had done nothing wrong and, as such, will not apologise.

“Let me say, I will never ever apologise to anybody in the House of Representatives,” Mr. Jibrin said in a statement. “I did not commit any offence.”

Mr. Jibrin’s allegations against Speaker Yakubu Dogara and others stemmed from his ouster as the chair of the much-coveted Committee on Appropriation.

Mr. Dogara announced Mr. Jibrin’s removal shortly before the House proceeded on an eight-week-long recess July 20, citing budget fraud and serial betrayal of trust.

On September 21, barely a day after resuming, Mr. Dogara’s loyalists moved a motion at the plenary seeking disciplinary actions against Mr. Jibrin.

 

Emmanuel Orker-Jev, a lawmaker from Benue, proposed tough sanctions against Mr. Jibrin for the damage his allegations had wrought on the House.

The image of the House has never been worse than this before. Hon. Jibrin was reckless and the allegations were false. He knew that the allegations were false and scandalous and he had no regards at all to whether the allegations were true or false,” Mr. Orker-Jev said.

The House subsequently assigned the matter to its Ethics and Privileges Committee for further investigation and to report back within a week with its findings and recommendations.

Nicholas Ossai, chairman of the committee, convened the first hearing on the matter September 23, during which Mr. Orker-Jev submitted his evidence against Mr. Jibrin.

Mr. Jibrin received an invitation to appear before the committee on Monday. But he decided toboycott the hearing, even though his demand that the sitting be thrown open to the public was met by Mr. Ossai.

Mr. Jibrin also asked his lawyer, Femi Falana, to seek discontinuation of the committee’s activities saying continuing  would amount to subjudice as the matter was in court.

Mr. Ossai said Mr. Jibrin’s failure to appear before his “properly and constitutionally constituted committee” was, in effect, a defence.

The report of the committee was laid before the House plenary at noon on Wednesday.

By 2:30 p.m., the House voted to adopt the recommendations of the committee as read out by Mr. Ossai on the floor.

The recommendations included a 180-day suspension, a formal letter of apology and a removal of rights to hold position of responsibility through the span of the current 8th National Assembly.

Although analysts said it was draconian and counterproductive, Mr. Jibrin’s, nonetheless, saw a bright spot in his suspension.

“At this point, I must say they freed me up to concentrate on the matter in court,” Mr. Jibrin said. “I know the suspension is not going to stand, secondly, I’m going into a massive alliance with civil society groups, NGOs and well meaning Nigerian to continue to press ahead.”

Analysts also said Mr. Jibrin’s suspension did not resolve the questions of what the House would do about the allegations of budget fraud confronting it.

House spokesman, Abdulrazak Namdas, did not respond to PREMIUM TIMES’ request for comment about this Wednesday night.

A top lawmaker in the House said the lawmakers will not consider Mr. Jibrin’s allegations since he didn’t present anything before them.

“I understand people want his allegations investigated,” the source told PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday night. “But don’t forget he didn’t present them before us.”

“He had an opportunity to do this last week when someone raised a motion for his suspension, but instead walked out in a show of arrogance.”

Mr. Jibrin is the first lawmaker to be suspended since 2010 when Dino Melaye and 10 others were found guilty of breaching House ethics and privileges.

West Idahosa, Austin Nwachukwu, Gbenga Onigbogi, Doris Uboh, Gbenga Oduaye, Independence Ogunewe, Solomon Achinawhi, Kayode Amusa, Anas Abass, and Bitmus Kaze received indefinite suspension alongside Mr. Melaye on June 22, 2010 under the speakership of Dimeji Bankole.

Mr. Melaye is now a senator representing Kogi West.

In the 4th National Assembly, 1999 -2003, two senators, Arthur Nzeribe and Joseph Waku, were suspended for ethical misconduct.

Mr. Jibrin’s suspension would see him barred from the premises of the National Assembly in the course of the disciplinary action. His office will be sealed and will not receive salaries or allowances.

Premium Times

 

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