IT IS AN ALL OUT WAR: SPEAKER DOGARA THREATENED LEGAL ACTION AGAINST JIBRIN, AND NOW THREATENS LEGAL ACTION AGAINST PREMIUM TIMES

The speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, on Thursday said he would pursue defamation charges against PREMIUM TIMES for allegedly publishing a “libellous” material circulated by a former chairman of House Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin.

Mr. Dogara said he gave this newspaper a seven-day grace period for it to retract and apologise for publishing the July 25 article which Mr. Jibrin said he distributed to media houses to throw more light on the unfolding budget padding scandal involving him, Mr. Dogara and other House principal officers.

In a letter dated July 27 and titled: “Demand for Apology for a Libelous Publication Contained in the Front Page of Your Newspaper of July 26, 2016,” Mr. Dogara quoted excerpts of the article and said their publication caused him “public opprobrium, odium, scorn and ridicule”.

Mr. Dogara and Mr. Jibrin had been locked in fierce political and media battle after the latter was removed as chair of the appropriation committee last Wednesday.

Mr. Jibrin, a lawmaker from Kano State, said Mr. Dogara colluded with his deputy, Yusuf Lasun, Chief Whip Alhassan Doguwa, and Minority Whip Leo Ogor to allot up to ₦40 billion to themselves in the budget.

The lawmakers denied the allegations and said Mr. Jibrin was angry because he lost his position as chairman of Committee on Appropriation.

Mr. Dogara’s letter to PREMIUM TIMES was written by a law firm, Messrs. Joash Ojo Amupitan (SAN) and Co., and was signed by Johnson Usman, a legal partner in the firm.

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

“Take notice that in the event of your failure/refusal to unconditionally retract your false and defamatory statements within seven (7) days of the receipt of this letter, you will have left us with no choice but to proceed with legal action against you. In that event, we will pursue all options to undo the reputational injury caused by you including a claim for aggravated and exemplary damages,” Mr. Dogara’s lawyers said.

PREMIUM TIMES’ legal adviser, Jiti Ogunye, said this paper did nothing untoward in publishing Mr. Jibrin’s allegations, and said Mr. Dogara’s threat was “unwarranted and legally offensive”.

Mr. Ogunye said Mr. Dogara’s action was aimed at stifling the freedom of the press.

“Indeed, it is a calculated but an unacceptable attempt to kill the right to freedom of expression and the press,” Mr. Ogunye said. “Section 22 of the Constitution imposes a duty on the press to hold the government accountable to the people. And what PREMIUM TIMES is doing is a very professional and responsible discharge of that constitutional duty.”

“The allegations and counter allegations from both sides are fairly reflected in PREMIUM TIMES reports and it is in the public interest that PREMIUM TIMES is upholding the right of the Nigerian people to know.”

Mr. Ogunye said Mr. Dogara was trying to drag PREMIUM TIMES into the corruption scandal rocking the House in order to create a legal loophole for himself and others enmeshed in it.

“A mischief is afoot because this threat to institute a civil action alleging defamation of character may just be a way to immediately deposit the allegations in a court so that they can say ‘because the matter is already in court it can no longer be entertained before the House.’”

Mr. Ogunye said rather than threaten PREMIUM TIMES, Mr. Dogara should preoccupy himself with relentless invitation to the EFCC and ICPC to come in and investigate the scandal, adding that PREMIUM TIMES would remain firm in its resolve to ensure that Nigerians remain abreast of unfolding developments in the scandal as well as other cases of sharp practices in public service.

“PREMIUM TIMES cannot be intimidated by the Speaker or anyone else because the shield of PREMIUM TIMES is integrity and adherence to the highest professional standards in journalism,” Mr. Ogunye said.

Source: PREMIUM TIMES.

Published on 28th July 2016.

 

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APPEAL FOR DONATION FOR THE N5 BILLION HIGH COURT CASE OF IDRIS AHMED VS ABDULMUMIN JIBRIN

Fellow compatriots, the bogus N5 billion lawsuit filed by the former Chairman of the House of Representatives on Budget Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, against CUPS, is nothing but a dastardly coward assault on Nigerian masses, and a hopeless attempt to silence the patriotic operations of CUPS.

The recent deluge in Nigerian media, of revelations of accusations, counter-accusations, systematic corruption, coverup, and padding of the 2016 by officials at the House of Representatives have vindicated CUPS for the publication we made on 12th April 2016, and for which Abdulmumin Jibrin is suing us for N5 billion as damages to his “reputation”. Despite the compelling evidence against him that is now in public domain, we still have to attend the court hearing on 20th September 2016 to defend ourselves.

Compatriots, it is NOT our intention to ask fellow Nigerians for donations at these hard pressed times. However, Abdulmumin Jibrin left us with no choice but to do so.

You can donate online at the cupstv.com website using this link DONATE. The system is very secure. It accepts Paypal, Visa, MasterCard, America Express, and all other Major credit and debit cards. Alternatively, you can donate directly to the CUPS corporate bank account as follows:

Account Name: Citizens United for Peace and Stability.

Account Number: 1140085583.

Bank: Skye Bank.

May the Almighty God reward you abundantly for standing up for the voice of the voiceless and for the gospel truth. Amen.

Dr. Idris Ahmed.

http://www.cupstv.com.

29/7/2016.

EX-GOVERNORS FRAUD CASE: ALI MODU SHERIFF, BUKOLA SARAKI, GODSWILL AKPABIO, ORJI UZOR KALU, SULE LAMIDO, SAMINU TURAKI ARE AMONG 31 TO BE TRIED

Senate President Bukola Saraki, factional Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Ali Modu Sheriff; and Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, are among 31 former governors whose alleged corruption cases investigated by the anti-graft agencies are likely to be reopened soon.

The PUNCH had exclusively reported on Tuesday that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, had written to the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, directing the reopening of the cases of the ex-governors.

It was learnt on Wednesday that the AGF had called for the case files of the former state governors.

The PUNCH obtained the list of the former governors, who were named in the AGF’s letter, on Wednesday.

The list contains the names of Saraki, a former Governor of Kwara State; Akpabio (a former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, and Sheriff (an ex-Governor of Borno State).

Other former governors include Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia); Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu); Saminu Turaki (Jigawa); Sule Lamido (Jigawa); Joshua Dariye (Plateau); Ahmed Yerima (Zamfara); Gabriel Suswam (Benue); Martin Elechi (Ebonyi); Danjuma Goje (Gombe) and Murtala Nyako (Adamawa).

They also include Ikedi Ohakim (Imo); Obong Victor Attah (Akwa Ibom); Achike Udenwa (Imo); Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa); Gbenga Daniel (Ogun); Jolly Nyame (Taraba); Boni Haruna (Adamawa); George Akume (Benue); Rashidi Ladoja (Oyo); Attahiru Bafarawa (Sokoto) and Adebayo Alao-Akala.

Others are Usman Dakingari (Kebbi); Adamu Mu’azu (Bauchi); Peter Odili (Rivers), and Lucky Igbindedion (Edo).

Part of the AGF’s letter to the ICPC, sighted by our correspondent on Monday, indicated that the cases against some of the former governors were investigated some years ago but charges were never filed against them.

The letter partly read, “It is clear that some of these governors and other politically-exposed persons have not been charged to court despite the fact that the ICPC has concluded their investigations, concerning allegations levelled against them, for one reason or the other.

“It is the position of the present administration that all ex-governors, who the ICPC had long concluded investigations into the various allegations levelled against them, should be immediately prosecuted.”
The letter also gave the Chairman of the ICPC a 14-day ultimatum to “remit the duplicate case files concerning the politically-exposed persons investigated by the ICPC over the years” to the office of the AGF.

Our correspondent confirmed on Wednesday that the AGF had sent a similar request to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission with the same list of former governors annexed to his letter.

The PUNCH had reported that some of the ex-governors, according to one of the sources, include some, who had been convicted for charges preferred against them by the EFCC. Some of them also had their cases terminated before full blown trial could begin.

Others are currently undergoing trial on charges initiated against them by the EFCC at either the various divisions of the Federal High Court or the High Courts of their home states.

There are about five of the former governors, who are now said to be serving senators.

The affected personalities, it was learnt, served as governors for either one or two terms between 1999 and 2015, and are from all the six geopolitical zones of the country.

It was also confirmed that the majority of those on the list belonged to the two dominant political parties, the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party.

Another source also confirmed that a former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori, who was convicted in the United Kingdom for fraud-related charges and still serving his prison terms, was on the list.

Apart from Ibori, two former governors from the South-South, are said to be on the list.

Five of the former governors are from the South-East, and three from the South-West.

The PUNCH was informed that the ex-governors, whose cases would be reopened, included six from the North-West; six from the North-East, and eight from the North-Central.

The AGF letter defines high-profile cases as cases “involving alleged misconduct amounting to economic sabotage; involving complex financial transactions or property movement; involving any of the suspects, who is a politician, a public officer or judicial officer; and where the subject matter involves government or corruption of its official or involves the abuse of office.”

Such judiciary officers, it was learnt, would include judges allegedly involved in economic sabotage, including financial transactions.

The AGF’s letter to both the ICPC and EFCC indicated that AGF’s request for the case files was in the exercise of his powers vested in the AGF by Section 174(1) of the Constitution as well as sections 105 (3) and 106 (a) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.

Our correspondent’s findings showed on Wednesday that ICPC and EFCC had yet to respond to the AGF’s request.

Source: The PUNCH.
Published on 28th July 2016.

MEET THE “YAHOO BOYS” – NIGERIA’S UNDERGRADUATE CONMEN

Many undergraduates in Nigerian universities dabble in internet fraud. Nicknamed “yahoo-yahoo” after the international web portal and search engine, this perfidy has become a way of life for the young con-artists. Many of these fraudsters – dubbed “yahoo-boys” – have become filthy rich.

Some have been caught by the law. In April 2012, Olasaidi Dare, an undergraduate of the Olabisi Onabanjo University in Ago-Iwoye, was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for an attempt to obtain money under false pretences in a cyber-café.

On June 5 2012, a Federal High Court in Kaduna State sentenced Imonina Kingsley, of the University of Ilorin, to 20 years’ imprisonment. He defrauded an Australian of US$1,000 by presenting himself as a gay person from the Republic of Benin. He was charged for impersonation, possession of fraudulent documents and attempting to obtain money by false pretences.

These cases attest to the pervasive nature of internet fraud in Nigerian universities. My own research was conducted at Nigeria’s premier University of Ibadan. My aim was to determine how this subculture is organised among students in tertiary institutions. For this I spoke to a number of these “yahoo-boys”.

Areas of specialisation

Internet fraud is organised along areas of specialisation to make a success of the deviant behaviour. Fraudsters study the security network of online transactions to decide where to pitch their tents. Quick monetary reward is what “yahoo-boys” have in mind. They use different schemes.

Sending fraudulent messages to online dating websites and social network sites were reported to be low-risk – but high-profit – areas of specialisation.

A third-year student said to me:

I started online fraud in my second semester of 100 level [a session comprised of two academic semesters in Nigerian universities] as an impostor via online dating. Then I looked for the profile of people that live in developed countries. But if it is in Nigeria, I look for people who live in places like Port Harcourt, Abuja [luxury suburbs].

I always posed to them as a big man who needed a wife. Sometimes I posed to them on how my wife disappointed me and took away my property and children. All this is polished in a pitiable way with some pictures to convince them when I’m chatting with them. However, what I do mainly now is to transmit misleading information online for people to send their bank accounts [details].

Another scam that is popular with the “yahoo boys” is phishing, a technique used to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details.

Third, the “yahoo boys” are also big on ATM fraud. They may stand at ATM galleries to feign assistance to vulnerable users – illiterates, the old and the physically challenged – and later swap cards to defraud them.

The fraudsters carry out their attacks mostly on weekends and mostly outside the state where the account is domiciled. Banks are mostly non-functional on weekends. This means victims will be unable to ask their banks to stop illegal transactions on their accounts until Monday morning, when the banks open for business, even though they receive debit alerts over the weekend.

Informal networks and the insider factor

Informal networks are vital to the young scamsters’ success. These networks revolve around banks, security agencies, co-fraudsters and, sometimes, families.

The common means of collecting fraud money in Nigeria is through the banks, mostly through the Western Union money transfer. Through compromised banking staff, fraudsters use fake identity to access funds. This is because the fraudster would have used a foreign name and would not have a recognised identity card in that name. For successful execution of fraud, an insider within the bank is important: the banker facilitates payment without attracting the attention of security agencies. They also get their share of the loot.

The instability in the Nigerian banking sector may have created an uncommitted workforce. Working in an insecure establishment makes workers vulnerable. More than 2,000 bankers have lost their jobs due to economic recession in the country. A large numbers of casual workers are deployed to man key positions in the banks. This makes way for criminal opportunities.

Therefore the “yahoo-boys” find easy allies in banking staff, who are mostly youths too, because of their socioeconomic nightmare. The fear of unemployment has been identified as a push factor for undergraduates’ involvement in internet fraud.

A fifth-year student stated that the fear of the unknown may have attracted a number of students to “yahoo-yahoo” rather than waiting for after-school unemployment. They see internet fraud as a creative outlet in a country like Nigeria.

The influence of corruption

Hitherto, internet fraud was carried out at public cafés. However, with regular raids on these internet cafés and the arrest of suspected fraudsters by the police, the “yahoo boys” have simply moved their bases.

Plus, the proliferation of internet service providers in Nigeria has made it even easier for scamsters to commit internet fraud. It is now as simple as buying modems and surfing the internet within the confines of their privately rented apartments on campus. The “yahoo boys” stay in physical communes of like-minded individuals and use this network to launch internet attacks.

They share information on a particular target and find new ways of making prospective targets yield to their deceit. They are able to get help, share internet costs and jointly pay for fuel for generators, which are used to power their computers. They come to school during the day, and go to social clubs in the evenings and to celebrate their successes.

It is no surprise that there is a proliferation of “yahoo boys”. The celebration of wealth, particularly among politicians, serves to motivate the involvement of the youths in cyber-crime. Nigerian society celebrates wealth without questioning the source of the money.

So what do these young, undergraduate Nigerians do under these circumstances? They see a leadership that doesn’t care about their future. And they use their education to follow the example set by their elders that shows crime pays.

Source: The Conversation.

Published on 26th July 2016.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RE-OPENS CORRUPTION CASES AGAINST 30 EX-APX, PDP GOVERNORS

A number of former state governors will soon face corruption charges. This indication emerged as the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abukakar Malami, has ordered the reopening of corruption cases for which they were earlier investigated by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission.

Sources in the ICPC confirmed to The PUNCH on Monday that the ICPC had last week, received a letter to that effect from the office of the AGF.

According to the newspaper, affected personalities, served as governors under (now) All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party, either one or two terms between 1999 and 2015, and are from all the six geopolitical zones in the country.

A former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori, who was convicted in the United Kingdom for fraud-related charges and still serving his prison terms, will face further probe.

Those to be charged are two former governors from the South-South.

Five of the former governors are from the South-East, and three from the South-West. Others are six from the North-West; six from the North-East, and eight from the North-Central.

The AGF’s letter indicated that the cases against some of the former governors had been investigated some years ago but charges were never filed against them.

The letter partly read, “It is clear that some of these governors and other politically-exposed persons have not been charged to court despite the fact that the ICPC has concluded their investigations concerning allegations levelled against them for one reason or the other.

“It is the position of the present administration that all ex-governors that the ICPC had long concluded investigations into the various allegations levelled against them should be immediately prosecuted.”

The letter also gave the Chairman of the ICPC a 14-day ultimatum to “remit the duplicate case files concerning the politically-exposed persons investigated by the ICPC over the years” to the office of the AGF.

The letter indicated that this was in the exercise of the powers vested in the AGF by Section 174(1) of the Constitution as well as sections 105 (3) and 106 (a) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.

The AGF’s letter also requested files of other high-profile cases involving politically-exposed persons.

The AGF letter defines high-profile cases as cases “involving alleged misconduct amounting to economic sabotage; involving complex financial transactions or property movement; involving any of the suspects, who is a politician, a public officer or judicial officer; and where the subject matter involves government or corruption of its official or involves the abuse of office.”

Source: The PUNCH.

Published on 26th July 2016.

HOUSE OF REPS PRESS RELEASE ON WHY ABDULMUMIN JIBRIN WAS SACKED

The House of Representatives on Tuesday gave further explanation for its decision to replace the Kano lawmaker, Abdulmumin Jibrin, as chairman of House Committee on Appropriation.

The House said Mr. Jibrin was removed last Wednesday for his “incompetence, abuse of budgetary process and serial betrayal, including a ‘proclivity to blackmail’”.

In the explanation, which was detailed in a press release by its spokesman, Abdulrazak Namdas, the House said Mr. Jibrin’s “highhandedness” could no longer be tolerated, hence his dismissal.
Mr. Namdas also responded to Mr. Jibrin’s allegations that Speaker Yakubu Dogara severely padded the 2016 budget to the tune of N40 billion.

Read the full press statement below:

TEXT OF PRESS CONFERENCE BY CHAIRMAN HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEE ON MEDIA & PUBLICITY, HON. ABDULRAZAK NAMDAS ON 26 JULY 2016:

You will recall that on Wednesday, July 20, 2016, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin was removed from his position as Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations and replaced by Hon. Mustapha Bala Dawaki. This was done in exercise of the powers conferred on Mr. Speaker by the House Rules to appoint and remove Committee Chairmen and Deputies in consultation with the House Leadership.

On that occasion, the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, had stated that Jibrin’s removal was a decision of the House Leadership and that incidentally, after that decision, Hon. Abdulmumin himself approached him on the floor of the House, just before he made the announcement, notifying him that the pressure on him was beyond what he could bear and that he no longer desired to continue as Chairman.

Strangely, after this, Hon. Abdulmumin went into a press war in which he is maligning, misrepresenting and denigrating the Speaker, the Leadership, the entire members of the House and indeed the House of Representatives as an institution.

It has become imperative that we clarify some of the issues he has raised to set the record straight.

2. SOME REASONS WHY HON. ABDULMUMIN JIBRIN WAS REMOVED:
His removal was based on sundry acts of misconduct, incompetence, immaturity, total disregard for his colleagues and abuse of the budgetary process, among others.

a. Immaturity and lack of capacity to handle the Office of Chairman, Appropriations:  One of the fundamental reasons why the House Leadership removed him is that, he was found not to be fit and proper person to hold such a sensitive office which exposes him to high officials of government at all levels.

Furthermore, in the course of the performance of his duties as Chairman of Appropriations Committee, it became evident that he does not possess the temperament and maturity required for such a high office.

b. Tendency and proclivity to blackmail colleagues and high government officials and misuse and mishandle sensitive government information:
He was in the habit of collating, warehousing and manipulating sensitive information to blackmail people sometimes apparently for pecuniary purposes. And by virtue of his position as Appropriations Chairman, he usually met with very high and senior public officers at all levels.

The Speaker and the Leadership were inundated with complaints by heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) over harassment from the House Appropriations Chairman to engage in conduct and acts unbecoming of their offices.

The Leadership launched an internal investigation into these allegations and was largely satisfied that action had to be taken to remove him, in the interest of the integrity of the House.

One clear example is the insertion of Funds for the so called Muhammadu Buhari Film Village in his Constituency in Kano without the consent or solicitation of Mr. President. This has brought both Mr. President and the government to disrepute.

Again, it was found out that he was fond of inserting projects into prominent persons’ constituencies without their knowledge to curry favour and possibly use it as a means of blackmail against them when necessary.

One of such is the numerous projects he claimed in a Channels TV interview in April 2016, to have cited in Mr. President’s home town of Daura, Katsina State without Mr. President’s solicitation or knowledge, in a desperate attempt to blackmail Mr. President as an answer and justification for allocation of N4.1 billion to his constituency when confronted by the interviewer.

He did not stop there. Hon Abdulmumin went about soliciting Honourable members to nominate projects for him to help them include in the Budget. When called upon to defend his actions as Appropriation’s Chairman, all he did was to be calling names of those members and the amount he helped include for them in the Budget in an unsuccessful bid to silence them. Most of the affected members took serious exceptions to his despicable antics and sundry acts of blackmail and protested to the Leadership to prevail on Hon Abdulmumin to expunge from the Budget what he claimed he allocated to them since they did not solicit for those projects.

To attempt to drag the name of Mr President, Honourable members and others to his new low through sundry acts of blackmail was one of the matters the House Leadership found off limits and totally unacceptable.

c. Unacceptable Mismanagement of the 2016 Budgetary Process:
i. It was also discovered that the former Chairman, Appropriations, discreetly and clandestinely allocated monies for projects that are not clearly defined in the budget for the purposes of exploiting the ambiguities for personal gains.

ii. Furthermore, he was found to be responsible for some bogus allocations in the budget for projects that have no locations and were apparently never meant to be executed.

iii. Hon. Jibrin’s mishandling of the 2016 budget process nearly fractured the otherwise cordial relationship between the Executive and the Legislature and brought the National Assembly and the government to public ridicule.

iv. For reasons that were not noble and not in the Public Interest, Hon Abdulmumin had initially inflated the Budget by adding about N250b more to the total figure as submitted by Mr President. This, the National Assembly Leadership out rightly rejected as a form of financial recklessness and inability to appreciate the dwindling resources available to government necessitating that we act prudently. He was directed therefore to make even further cuts below Mr Presidents total figure.

v. Hon Abdulmumin, in his desperation to ingratiate himself into the good books of the Presidency, unilaterally entered into commitments on the structure of the Budget, without the knowledge of the National Assembly Leadership, in the full knowledge, not only that he had no authority to do so, but dishonestly had no intentions of keeping to those commitments, having done the exact opposite in processing the budget details. This brought the House into disrepute as it portrayed the National Assembly and its leadership as persons who couldn’t keep their word.

vi. He displayed crass ineptitude and general lack of capacity to handle the work, thereby serving as a clog in the appropriations process. He contributed significantly to the delays in the passage of the Appropriation Bill. No one, not even his Deputy and Members of the Appropriations Committee, could reach him at certain periods during the budget process.
Indeed on the last day of the exercise, he went underground to avoid being compelled to show areas he had hidden most of the cuts he claimed he made, an act which amounted to gross insubordination and an attempt to hold captive, all involved in the budget chain to the point of entirely frustrating the passage of the Budget.

The tripartite Committee of the Senate, House and Executive thus completed the 2016 Budget without Hon Abdulmumin as he was hiding, believing that the job could not be done without him.

vii. Confirming some of the reasons for his removal and true to type, Hon Abdulmumin has since after his sack, resorted to blackmail, his stock in trade. He has released documents from dubious sources in a desperate bid to lure gullible members of the public to his side. Mr Speaker’s inputs to the 2016 Budget was signed and delivered to him. If he has honour, let him release the signed inputs of Mr Speaker and not pieces of paper that bears no acknowledged authorship. Our counsel to Hon Abdulmumin is for him to be real as a man by bringing up credible, authentic and verifiable documents or stubborn facts which disclose the commission of crime on the part of any Member or Leader of the House. If he can’t, then let him go and sulk in secret over his sack.

3. LOSS OF CREDIBILITY:
a. It also came to the knowledge of Leadership that the allocations for these developmental projects meant for the Appropriations and Finance Committees’ members were neither disclosed nor properly and equitably distributed by Hon. Jibrin to them which contributed to massive agitations for his removal.

b. The Leadership was also in receipt of complaints about his activities as Chair of Finance Committee in the 7th Assembly, which had potentials to embarrass the House because of his current position as Chair of the Appropriations Committee. Investigations found that from 2011 – 2015 Hon Abdulmumin domiciled with Hadejia – Jama’are River Basin Authority and few other MDAs some of the allocations meant for his former Finance Committee members some of whom are still members of the 8th Assembly. He was alleged to have aided the use of front companies that collected funds without executing most of the projects. The Projects have been compiled and will at the appropriate time be referred to the Anti Graft Agencies to establish why the projects were fully paid for and not executed, who collected the funds and why has Hon Abdulmumin not raised any alarm about the non execution of the projects even now?

c. Twice, in Executive Sessions, members unanimously and vehemently demanded that the Speaker remove Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin from the Appropriations Committee for gross abuse of his position as Chairman.However, the Speaker, tried to manage the situation but members did not relent on their agitations for his removal not only for gross abuse of his position but also for the poor and incompetent handling of 2016 appropriation process.

d. The Leadership also observed with embarrassment that since his mismanagement of 2016 Budget process, every time Hon Abdulmumin gets up to speak on the floor of the House, there was spontaneous chorus of ole! ole,! ole! or thief! thief! thief! Barawo! Barawo! Barawo! from Hon. members which climaxed in a motion to have him removed as Chairman, Appropriations.

e. It is regrettably true that Hon Abdulmumin was entrusted with critical aspects of the budget, but he is not the sole author of the budget as he appears to be portraying himself. Every reasonable person knows that it is a bare faced lie. His stories without corroboration from anyone who was deeply involved in the Budget process is, mere tales by moon light, a fitting story for bed time. If he has any witness, let them speak up in his support. Apparently, he doesn’t know that no one can be convicted even in the court of public opinion based on the evidence of one man.

4. ZONAL/CONSTITUENCY INTERVENTION PROJECTS IS NOT PADDING:
Zonal/Constituency Intervention Projects have their origins in constitutional provisions as encapsulated in the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy requiring the government to ensure equitable distribution of resources and infrastructure.

The idea of Zonal/Constituency Intervention projects arose as a result of the need to carry every part of the country along in allocation of projects in the budget, and to address the imbalance in line with federal character principles as enshrined in the Constitution.

In recent years, there has always been standing lump sum allocation for the implementation of Zonal/Constituency Intervention Projects in every budget proposal from Mr. President including the 2016 budget, as mutually agreed between the Executive and the Legislature.

The entire annual budget estimates once presented by Mr. President, is referred to the Appropriations Committee for further legislative input and scrutiny at the conclusion of the Second Reading.

While it is prerogative of National Assembly members to decide the projects and their locations, it is the prerogative of the relevant MDAs to choose the contractors, award the projects and to execute. For emphasis, the general impression that monies are given to members of the National Assembly to execute projects is incorrect and unfounded.

The allocation of the funds earmarked for Zonal/Constituency intervention projects has customarily and traditionally been distributed between the Senate and the House in the ratio of 40-60 as done in the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th Assemblies.

The leadership of both Chambers, including the Appropriations and Finance Committees are normally and traditionally allocated certain percentages of these funds, for inclusion in the Appropriation Bill for projects. The remaining are distributed to members of the National Assembly for inclusion of their preferred projects in the Budget. This has also been the established tradition over the years.

For the avoidance of doubt, the 8th House of Representatives under the leadership of Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has not deviated from established practices, precedents and traditions in this matter.

It is necessary to emphasise that these budgetary allocations are meant for developmental projects under the purview of these leaders in their Constituencies and at other levels and not for their personal benefit. And certainly they are not allocations of money or contracts! These projects include roads, bridges, water supply, electricity, schools, skill acquisitions etc. They are projects that can be located either in the Exclusive Legislative List or Concurrent List.

It should be noted also that arising from oversight and House Resolutions on specific critical needs, the Leadership is obliged to accommodate some projects that may have been omitted or are not captured in Mr. President’s proposal.

5. POWERS OF NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ON APPROPRIATION:
The powers of the National Assembly on appropriation are clearly spelt out in Sections 4, 59 and 80 (4) of the 1999 Constitution.
Section 4, empowers the National Assembly to make laws for good governance of the federation while Section 59 confers on the Legislature final say on the budget.

Section 80 (4) on the other hand, which confers on the legislature absolute power of control over public funds, states that: “No money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, EXCEPT IN THE MANNER PRESCRIBED BY THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY”. The word MANNER confers absolute legislative discretion.

When therefore, the National Assembly appropriates funds in the budget, it CAN NEVER under any circumstances or guise be deemed or regarded as tinkering or padding.

The legislature is therefore constitutionally incapable of padding the budget.

What the Executive submits are mere estimates and proposal as stipulated in Section 81 (1). It is obvious that the Constitution uses the word ESTIMATES advisedly. Consequently, it is therefore an exhibition of crass ignorance, abuse of language, outright mischief and or blackmail for a legislator especially one who chaired the Appropriations Committee to use the word PADDING to describe the action of parliament on the budget.

The removal, introduction of projects or the amendment of Mr. President’s estimates in the Appropriation Bill CANNOT AND SHOULD NEVER BE CONSTRUED AS AN ACT OF CORRUPTION OR IMPROPRIETY because it is at the core of appropriation powers of the National Assembly as aptly enshrined in the 1999 Constitution. It is therefore clear, that no crime or wrong doing can be legitimately imputed on the actions or conduct of Mr. Speaker, the Leadership or Members of the House of Representatives before, during and after the passage of the 2016 Appropriation Bill.

6. CONCLUSION:
After the House Leadership reviewed all the issues raised above, it was left with no option but to respect the wishes of the overwhelming majority of Hon. Members to remove Hon Abdulmumin as Chairman, Appropriations Committee of the House. It was clear to the entire Leadership that in this government of change, Hon Abdulmumin lacks the character and credentials to chair the House Committee on Appropriations.

I am aware that in accordance with the Rules of the House, this matter will at the appropriate time go to the Committee on Ethics and Privileges where Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin will be afforded the opportunity of fair hearing.

Source: PREMIUM TIMES.
Published on 26th July 2016.

This Press release can be downloaded here as a PDF document: House Press Release on why Abdulmumin Jibrin was sacked

ON BUDGET PADDING: OBASANJO SUGGESTS HOW BUHARI SHOULD DEAL WITH “CRIMINAL LAWMAKERS”

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday advised President Muhammadu Buhari against releasing funds meant for constituency projects to federal lawmakers.

Mr. Obasanjo said shortly after visiting Mr. Buhari at the Presidential Villa that the current crisis in the House of Representatives confirmed his allegation that there were thieves in the National Assembly.

The former president spoke as the rift between the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and former Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, intensified.

Mr. Jibrin is accusing Mr. Dogara and leaders of the lower legislative chamber of padding the 2016 budget.

But in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES from his Abeokuta home later on Monday, Mr. Obasanjo said on no account should Mr. Buhari release any money in the name of constituency projects to the National Assembly.

The former president said Nigerians should continue to protest the move by federal lawmakers to use the budget to illegally enrich themselves.

Since Mr. Buhari is the only person empowered to release money under the law, Mr. Obasanjo advised the president to only make funds available for expenditures that were legally budgeted for.

“That is criminal and they should be held accountable for it,” Mr. Obasanjo said. “There should be a showdown between what is right and what is wrong. After such a showdown, what is right will definitely prevail and the criminals will be put to shame.”

He said the constituency projects, as being canvassed by the lawmakers, were “illegal, criminal and wrapped in corruption”.

“They are the contractors, the jury, the judge and prosecutors,” Mr. Obasanjo said. “They put the projects in the budgets and they do the projects by themselves or through contractors they nominate. Where is integrity? Where is honesty?” the former president asked.

Still carpeting the lawmakers, Mr. Obasanjo said members of the National Assembly were simply trying to hijack the job of the executive arm of government.

“Who supervises the job? Who ascertains that the job has been done? It is not in their place to execute projects. It is illegal,” he said.

Mr. Obasanjo advised lawmakers interested in having projects executed in their constituencies to go to the executive and make their cases.

He argued that constituency projects were illegal and that Nigerian lawmakers only use them to steal money.

“They are thieves. I have always held the view that they are thieves, can you all see it now?” he said.

He also said once lawmakers perform the functions of the executive, they would not do justice to lawmaking and would not be able to pass budgets the way they should be done.

The former president lamented that the national lawmakers were using the “constituency projects” to crowd out legitimate and genuine capital projects the executive would have used to develop the country.

The former president said during his tenure, he did not release funds for constituency projects.

“I explained to them that it was the job of the executive to execute projects to develop the country, while that of lawmakers was to approve the budget.” Mr. Obasanjo was president between 1999 and 2007.

He said he also advised federal lawmakers that if they wanted to be in a position to award contracts or execute projects like those in the executive arm of government, they should go and contest elections as local government chairmen, governors or president.

He warned lawmakers against usurping the functions of the executive out of greed, selfishness, lawlessness and criminality.

“They should be lawmakers, not law breakers,” Mr. Obasanjo said

The former president described the “so-called constituency projects” as a waste of public funds that should not be condoned by any leader.

“The question to ask is: assuming they execute the contracts, although we know they don’t, they usually pocket the monies. But assuming they execute the contracts, what becomes of the projects in future when they cease to be in the National Assembly? Who maintains them? When a project is not built by states, local governments or federal governments, they do not have a future,” he said.

This is not the first time Mr. Obasanjo had descended heavily on Nigerian lawmakers.

In 2012, the former president lashed out at the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly, describing them as institutions filled with “rogues and armed robbers”.

Mr. Obasanjo spoke at an event in Lagos attended by two former Heads of State, Yakubu Gowon and Ernest Shonekan.

He again lambasted the country’s lawmakers at the Fourth Annual Conference of the Academy for Entrepreneurial Studies, attended by former Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola and retired Chief Justice Nigeria, Muhammadu Uwais.

At that event, Mr. Obasanjo referred to the legislature as among the nation’s most corrupt and inefficient institutions.

“Integrity is necessary for all systems and institutions to be strong,” the former president had said. “Today, rogues, armed robbers are in the state houses of assembly and the national assembly. What sort of laws will they make?”

Mr. Obasanjo again took lawmakers to the cleaners sometime in 2014 at a book launch in honour of a former Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, Mustapha Akanbi.

At the event, the former president said the National Assembly was populated by corrupt persons.

Source: PREMIUM TIMES.

Published on 26th July 2016.