BREAKING: HOUSE OF REPS SUSPENDS JIBRIN FOR OVER A YEAR OVER BUDGET PADDING SCANDAL

The House of Representatives on Wednesday suspended Abdulmumin Jibrin, a lawmaker from Kano at the centre of the unfolding budget padding scandal, for 180 legislative days.

The House seats three days in a week and this consequently means that Mr. Jibrin’s suspension would last more than a year.

In a motion recommended by House Ethics Committee chairman, Nicholas Ossai, and adopted by the whole House, Mr. Jibrin will also not be able to hold any position of responsibility for the span of the current National Assembly.

Mr. Jibrin began stirring what experts now described as one Africa’s biggest parliamentary scandals in recent memory on July 21, a day after he was eased out as chairman of the powerful committee.

Although the House was taking a two-month recess at the time, Mr. Jibrin remained resolute in his quest to “end the massive corruption in the House.”

“My resolve to champion this cause was borne out of patriotism and desire to complement the present administration’s anti-corruption war from the legislative front,” Mr. Jibrin said in an email to PREMIUM TIMES on August 21.

Mr. Jibrin said the campaign had earned him “blackmail, propaganda and campaign of calumny” from Mr. Dogara, lawmakers loyal to him and their proxies.

The assault had been largely targeted at the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, and three other principal officers, whose resignation and prosecution he had continued to demand.

Mr. Dogara had announced the removal of Mr. Jibrin in a speech he read in plenary on July 20, alleging budget fraud and serial betrayal of trust.

To back his allegations against Mr. Dogara, Mr. Jibrin released damning documents to the media.

On July 30, the State Security Service sealed the secretariat of the Appropriation Committee in the National Assembly after Mr. Jibrin raised the alarm that Mr. Dogara had allegedly concluded plans to cart away computers and destroy evidence.

Mr. Jibrin also visited law enforcement agencies, including the EFCC, the SSS and the police, where he said he personally submitted petitions detailing evidence of fraudulent manipulation of budget by Mr. Dogara, his deputy Yusuf Lasun, House Whip, Alhassan Doguwa, Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, and nine others.

After several days of silence, Mr. Dogara succumbed to public demands for him to defend himself and came out with blistering statements denying all the charges against him.

Mr. Dogara took specific issue with the ‘budget padding’ catchphrase, saying it was a strange term to use when describing the actions of the legislature.

He also said lawmakers could not be probed by law enforcement agencies over any infractions in the National Assembly, but later walked back this statement.

At some point, the APC moved to contain the crisis, but its gag order lasted only a weekend. Consequently, lawmakers began openly criticising Mr. Jibrin for allegedly defacing the National Assembly, dealing a major blow to his crusade.

Mr. Jibrin’s isolation became even more pronounced after 10 principal officers of the House released a statement backing Mr. Dogara and denouncing Mr. Jibrin. Amongst them was Femi Gbajabiamila, the Majority Leader who many thought would be reluctant to openly back Mr. Dogara.

The development sparked speculation that Mr. Jibrin would be suspended upon resumption of the House from recess.

The House resumed on September 20 and a lawmaker loyal to Mr. Dogara moved a motion the next day to have Mr. Jibrin probed for allegedly breaching the privileges of the members.

Emmanuel Orker-Jev, a lawmaker from Benue, proposed tough sanctions against Mr. Jibrin for the damage his allegations have allegedly 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.

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

Mr. Jibrin received an invitation to appear before the committee on Monday. But decided to boycott 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 committee’s activities in court.

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

Mr. Jibrin had on Tuesday alleged subjudice saying the committee should not have sat since the matter was in court.

Mr. Jibrin’s suspension would see him banned from the premises of the National Assembly in the course of the disciplinary action. He would also not receive salaries or allowances.

Some sympathisers of Mr. Jibrin saw his suspension as partisan, draconian and counterproductive.

“This show of partisanship and support for Mr. Dogara is condemnable and too severe,” said a political analyst, Gbola Oba. Mr. Oba said Mr. Jibrin had suffered the same fate as Dino Melaye who was suspended in 2010 for breach of members’ privilege. Mr. Melaye is now a senator representing Kogi West.

“We knew they would gang up against him as they did against Mr. Melaye,” Mr. Oba said. “This clearly shows that the House has failed to move beyond its counterproductive ways of suspending anyone who challenges the status quo.

“If the House were a serious body, serious attention would be given to Mr. Jibrin’s claim so as to foster a thriving democratic experiment within the country.”

Source: PREMIUM TIMES.

For detailed analysis of this story, check us out at www.cupstv.com

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Budget Padding: Commotion as Reps Members ‘Fight’ in National Assembly

The cat was let out of the bag on Wednesday, September 21, when the Chairman, House Committee on Rules and Business, Emmanuel Orker-jev, moved a motion on breach of his privilege and that of the House by the embattled sacked Chairman, House committee on Appropriations Committee, Abdulmumin Jibrin.

According to ‎Orker-jev‎, Honourable Jibrin, having dragged the name of principal members of the House in disrupt by going to the media and discussing issues of the House without due approval, Jibrin should be duly suspended.

In reaction, ‎members of the Transparency Group started shouting “No, no, no,”‎ as this was countered by pro-Dogara‎ group who shouted “Dogara, Dogara, Dogara,”‎ ‎with a green scarves with the inscription “I stand with Dogara distributed to members of the House.

‎In a bid to calm nerves, the issue was referred to the House Committee on Privileges and Ethics for onward consideration and discipline.

Meanwhile, in the Red Chambers, the major debate for the day was on the economic challenges and possible solutions.

The motion which was moved by Senate Leader, Ali Ndume representing Borno ‎South, attracted wide range of opinions as members reeled out possible solutions to the current economic quagmire.

Chief amongst such is the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu representing Enugu East and Senator Dino Melaye representing Kogi West.

According to Ekweremadu, “The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma and the Minister of finance, Kemi Adeosun, should be reshuffled and moved to other Ministries were their inputs can be felt.

Senator Melaye on the other hand, called for a complete sack of the duo, nothing that their incompetence has contributed to the present state of the nation’s economy.

He said, “Hunger and poverty have no political party or religion”, thereby calling on all members irrespective of political affiliation to put their hands on deck to resolve the crisis.

According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari should place total ban on the importation of Rice, refined Surgar, Milk, Groundnut, Cashew, Clothing/Textile/ Shoes, body cream, perfume, frozen fish, meat etc in a bid to boost local production.

Melaye, further lamented that the CBN was operating without a board and this is also creating a clog in the wheel of progress.

Senator Shehu Sani representing Kaduna Central said, “Federal Allocation to states from Abuja, is part of the problem.”

He, however, kicked against the sack of ministers as according to him, such will not address the problem.

Senator Samuel Anyanwu, representing Imo East called for a critical roundtable discussion and an immediate paradigm shift of President Buhari’s body language which according to him is deterring investors from coming into the country.

Senator George Akume, representing Benue North West, in his own part, kicked against the sale of national assets, nothing that those calling for the sale of these assets, have the means of buying them, even as he said that the blame game cannot stop.

Earlier

The House of Representatives is currently engulfed in a rowdy session, over a motion, seeking to suspend the Sacked Chairman, House of Representatives committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin.

During plenary on Wednesday, September 21, Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, recognised Emmanuel Oker-Jev, Chairman Rules and Business, to move the motion, seeking Jibrin’s suspension.

The motion was then adopted and referred to the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges, for further deliberation.

At this point, members began shouting “Dogara, Dogara”.

Meanwhile, pro-Dogara protesters also stormed the National Assembly complex, in the early hours of Wednesday, demanding the immediate suspension of Jibrin.

Source: Post Nigeria.

Budget Padding: SERAP sues the EFCC at Federal High Court, seeks Dogara’s trial in court

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara  must be investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and prosecuted over allegations of budget padding.

A Nigerian group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) is pursuing an order of  the Federal High Court in Abuja to actualise this. And it has filed an action in this regard.

The suit with number FHC/ABJ/CS/733/16 dated 15th September 2016 was filed on behalf of SERAP by its Solicitor Femi Falana, SAN.

SERAP wants  an order to compel the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to

“investigate and prosecute allegations of budget padding and abuse of office levelled against the Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara as well as the Deputy Speaker, Yussuf Lasun; the Minority Leader, Leo Ogor; and the Chief Whip, Hassan Ado Doguwa.”

The National Assembly will resume on Tuesday, after more than six weeks of recess.

The mandamus suit reads in part:

“This suit was borne out of the fact that it is the statutory responsibility of the EFCC to investigate and prosecute financial crimes in Nigeria. Unless the reliefs sought by SERAP are granted, the EFCC will not investigate the Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara as well as the Deputy Speaker, Yussuff Lasun; the Minority Leader, Leo Ogor; and the Chief Whip, Hassan Ado for grave financial and economic crimes.”

“This matter is presently generating a lot of public concern and discourse and is presently in the front burner of national discourse thus germane to Nigerians. By the nature of the case, it ought to be heard urgently. It is in the interest of justice to hear this matter expeditiously.”

“The Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara as well as the Deputy Speaker, Yussuf Lasun; the Minority Leader, Leo Ogor; and the Chief Whip, Hassan Ado are not immune from investigation under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, even though the Hon. Speaker Hon. Yakubu Dogara has been talking tough saying that the EFCC cannot investigate him.”

“By virtue of Section 6 of the Economic and Fiancial Crimes Commission Act, 2004, the EFCC is statutorily empowered to investigate and prosecute economic and financial crimes committed in Nigeria. The EFCC has failed, and or refused to investigate allegations of budget padding and abuse of office leveled against the Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara as well as the Deputy Speaker, Yussuff Lasun; the Minority Leader, Leo Ogor; and the Chief Whip, Hassan Ado Doguwa.”

“By a letter dated 26th July, 2016, and signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni the organization requested the EFCC to investigate allegations of budget padding and abuse of office leveled against the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Hon. Yakubu Dogara as well as the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yussuff Lasun; the Minority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor; and the Chief Whip, Hon. Hassan Ado.”

“In the petition to the EFCC, SERAP requested for investigation into the following allegations of grave economic and financial crimes: the approval of N40 Billion for principal officers of the House of Representatives out of the N100 Billion approved for members of the House of Representatives for constituency project; the running of the finances of the House by the Speaker like his personal estate; and the diversion of millions of naira in the name of paying for guest houses and official residence.”

“Other allegations of economic and financial crimes include: soliciting for inappropriate favours from agencies and multi-national companies; compelling an agency to grant loans; blackmailing a construction company to do some work at the Speaker’s Asokoro, Abuja plot; and designing a scheme to scam members of the House through deductions from their salaries for supposed mortgage arrangements.”

“Section 46 of Act which is the interpretation Section in the defines “economic and financial crimes” to mean the “non-violent criminal and illicit activity committed with the objectives of earning wealth illegal either individually or in a group or organized manner thereby violating existing legislation governing the economic activities of government and its administration and includes any form of fraud, embezzlement, looting and any form of corrupt malpractices.”

“Section 13 (1) (b) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act empowers the General and Assets Investigation Unit of the Commission to arrest and apprehend perpetrators of economic and financial crimes. Mandamus lies to secure the performance of a public duty in the performance which the applicant has a sufficient legal interest. The must show that he has demanded the performance of the duty and that performance has been refused by the authority obliged to discharge it”

“SERAP’s letter to EFCC contained mind blogging allegations of primitive accumulation of wealth by Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara as well as the Deputy Speaker, Yussuff Lasun; the Minority Leader, Leo Ogor; and the Chief Whip, Hassan Ado Doguwa.”

“The heinous crime of fraud, diversion of public funds and unlawful enrichment leveled against Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara as well as the Deputy Speaker, Yussuff Lasun; the Minority Leader, Leo Ogor; and the Chief Whip, Hassan Ado Doguwa is a gross deprivation of the good people of Nigeria’s legitimate wealth and natural resources. The citizens of Nigeria have been deprived their natural wealth and these public officers in question should be investigated forthwith.”

“The allegations leveled against the leaders of the House of Representatives are despicable to the highest degree. These leaders must not be allowed to run away from justice. The Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 has provided these accountability channels and has gone further with a provision giving every Nigerian a standing to seek the enforcement of the provisions of the Act in court as provided in Section 51 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007.”

The suit was brought pursuant to Order 34, Rules 1 (1) (A); 2, Rule 3 (1) and (2) (A), (B) and (C) of the Federal High Court Rules, 2009 and the inherent jurisdiction of the Honourable Court. SERAP is seeking the following reliefs:

(A). A DECLARATION that the failure of the Respondent to investigate to investigate allegations of budget padding and abuse of office leveled against the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Hon. Yakubu Dogara as well as the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yussuff Lasun; the Minority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor; and the Chief Whip, Hon. Hassan Ado is illegal and unconstitutional as it violates Section 6 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act, 2004.

(B). AN ORDER OF MANDAMUS compelling the Respondent (EFCC) to investigate allegations of budget padding and abuse of office leveled against the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Hon. Yakubu Dogara as well as the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yussuff Lasun; the Minority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor; and the Chief Whip, Hon. Hassan Ado Doguwa.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

Source: NAN.

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.

 

JIBRIN STRIKES AGAIN, SAYS DOGARA TOOK BRIBES FROM AGENCIES, MULTINATIONAL COMPANIES

Embattled former chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, has struck again, this time with new revelations about how Speaker Yakubu Dogara allegedly perpetrated a massive shakedown of administrators of government agencies and multinational firms operating in the country.

Mr. Jibrin raised the allegations in an email to PREMIUM TIMES on Monday evening, as tension intensified in the House of Representatives over the unfolding budget padding scandal.

The revelations, which are the latest in a series of similar ones from Mr. Jibrin in recent days, marked strong indications that the fallout from the budget padding scandal may be far from over.

Mr. Jibrin took the scandal and his battle against Mr. Dogara to the media after the Speaker announced his departure in a statement on the floor of the House on allegations that the Kano State lawmaker serially betrayed the trust reposed in him by the House leadership and his colleagues.

But Mr. Jibrin repeatedly denied that he committed treachery or that he was fired, saying he had earlier informed the Speaker of his intention to step down.

Mr. Jibrin said Mr. Dogara had repeatedly victimised him for being an independent voice in the lower chamber, saying he would work to ensure that the Speaker either resigns or is disgraced from office.

To achieve his aim, Mr. Jibrin said he would reveal to Nigerians all the corrupt practices involving Mr. Dogara, which he said were well documented.

In the latest attacks, Mr. Jibrin said the fraudulent tendencies of Mr. Dogara and some other House principal officers had become so pervasive that President Buhari would not hesitate to isolate and investigate them if he were to be briefed about them.

“Speaker Yakubu Dogara and his senior cabal namely Deputy Speaker Lasun, Whip Doguwa and Minority leader Ogor have promoted corruption so badly in the House that if President Muhammadu Buhari with his disdain for corruption and corrupt people has 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. Jibrin said.

Mr. Jibrin detailed how Mr. Dogara and others allegedly diverted funds meant for legislative functions to service their guest houses and official apartments, saying the Speaker was once engaged in an open brawl with a lawmaker over the matter.

“Mr. Speaker and Deputy Speaker Yusuf Lasun diverted millions of naira all in the name of paying for guest houses and official residence,” the lawmaker said. “The issue became so messy that the Deputy Speaker openly accused Hon Herma Hembe of short changing them of millions of naira in the deal to the shock of many Hon Members.”

Also revealed about Mr. Dogara were details of how he allegedly blackmailed government agencies and multinational companies into succumbing to his demands for financial and material gratification, in a clear case of conflict of interest, Mr. Jibrin said.

“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’.”

Mr. Jibrin said Mr. Dogara devised a means of shaving funds from lawmakers’ salaries into his pocket on the premise of putting a mortgage system in place for members.

Mr. Jibrin said, Mr. Dogara “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.”

Mr. Ila’s mention in today’s allegations marked the first time Mr. Jibrin would introduce another lawmaker to the controversy that was not in the initial quartet.

“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,” Mr. Jibrin said.

Mr. Jibrin also revealed another first in his statement today, a call for lawmakers to commence thorough investigation into the allegations against the Speaker and others.

“I am therefore once again calling on honourable colleagues and well meaning Nigerians to prevail on Speaker Yakubu Dogara and his three other cohorts to put the interest of country first and allow the House to conduct a thorough investigation into the allegations on them.”

This is the first time Mr. Jibrin would support a House investigation.

He used his previous statements to prevail on Mr. Dogara to allow EFCC and other relevant agencies conduct detailed investigations of all allegations arising from the budget padding scandal.

Civil society groups have also called for thorough investigation.

In separate interviews with PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, Transition Monitoring Group, and the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, said only a thorough inquiry into the alleged sharp practices would unravel the circumstances under which they were perpetrated.

Despite growing demand from Nigerians for his explanation, Mr. Dogara has maintained silence, saying he would rather allow the House to deal with the matter as an institution instead of engaging in political mudslinging with Mr. Jibrin.

Source: PREMIUM TIMES.

Published on 25th July 2016.