Monday, 1 August 2016

Budget Padding: Rep Jibrin takes campaign against Dogara to four anti-corruption agencies, says Speaker must fall

A former Chairman of the appropriations committee of the House of Representatives, Abdulmumin Jibrin, on Monday announced that he would be visiting Nigeria’s major anti-corruption agencies today to shed light on his allegation of budget padding against
Speaker Yakubu Dogara and other principal officers of the lower chamber.

He said he would fully cooperate with investigators to understand the depth of budget fraud and abuse of office by Mr. Dogara and other lawmakers.

Mr. Jibrin made the announcement via his Twitter handle on Monday, hours after he appeared on Channels Television political programme, Politics Today, alleging widespread institutional corruption in the legislature.

“My lawyers have confirmed my appointments for today with security and anti corruption agencies to personally provide insight on my petition,” Mr. Jibrin said in a series of tweets.

“We will be at the ICPC 10am, DSS 12noon, EFCC 2pm and Police HQ 4pm. The law will surely catch up with the corrupt Speaker Dogara and others.”

The lawmaker’s shuttle visits to anti-corruption agencies is his latest effort at ensuring Mr. Dogara; his deputy, Yusuf Lasun; Chief Whip, Alhassan Doguwa; Minority Leader, Leo Ogor; and some other lawmakers are investigated and prosecuted for alleged graft.

Mr. Jibrin, who described himself as an accidental anti-corruption activist, began fighting the leadership of the House on July 21, after he was removed from his post by Mr. Dogara who accused him of betrayal of trust.

Apart from Mr. Dogara and three other House principal officers, Mr. Jibrin also accused 10 heads of committees of inserting 2000 projects worth N284 billion in the 2016 budget.

Giving a highlight of his petition, he said his case against Mr. Dogara and his colleagues included “corrupt enrichment, abuse of office and public trust, living above means, massive movement of funds in the budget.”

After he spoke on Channels Television last night, Abonta Abonta, a member of the House, belonging to the PDP, came on air to dismiss his claims.

On Monday morning, Mr. Jibrin descended on Mr. Abonta, calling on the authorities to probe the funds allocated to the committee on public relations chaired by the PDP lawmaker.

“I added one new name to my petition, Hon Abonta Abonta,” he said. “The member who spoke after me on Channels and denied corruption exists in the House.

“Let me use Hon Abonta as a case. I have asked the anti-graft agencies to investigate his office running cost. Wait for the shocking outcome.”

Mr. Jibrin’s attack on Mr. Abonta might discourage other lawmakers from coming out in defence of Mr. Dogara and his colleagues.

After nine members of the appropriations committee addressed a press conference defending Mr. Dogara last week, Mr. Jibrin hit the committee’s vice chairman who led the briefing.

He alleged that Chris Azubogu abused his position by demanding that the 2016 budget be padded with 111 projects.

He also said nine other members who participated in the briefing received $20,000 each from Mr. Dogara, through his chief of staff, to address the press conference.

Civil society organisations have called on Mr. Dogara to step aside to enable an unfettered investigation of the allegations.

A group of lawmakers in the House, the Transparency Group, is also calling for a thorough investigation of Mr. Jibrin’s allegations.

Mr. Dogara’s spokesperson, Turaki Hassan, has in the past days repeatedly declined to comment for stories concerning Mr. Jibrin’s allegations against his boss.


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