In a new twist to the recent drama in the House of Representatives, men close the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, have said that Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin was sacked as Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation for padding the budget with N250m.
A senior member in the House of Representatives and one of Dogara’s aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Jibrin was sacked by the Speaker because he had jerked up the budget by the said amount.
The sources said Jibrin’s plan was discovered after he had tabled the final copy of the budget document on a Thursday for passage by the two chambers of the National Assembly.
They said that it was the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Dogara, who blocked Jibrin’s move.
“The Senate President and the Speaker directed Jibrin to not only revert to original figure proposed by the President but also lower it by about N30bn because of expected drop in revenue,” one of the sources said.
“That was why the budget was not passed until the following Tuesday.”
But the fresh information contradicts claims by Jibrin in a statement released on Thursday that he was being victimised by the Speaker because he had objected to a request Dogara made that he (Jibrin) should allocate projects worth N40bn to him in the 2016 budget.
He had also alleged that the projects would have been shared among four principal officers, namely, Dogara; the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Yussuff Lasun; the Whip, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; and the Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor.
However, the source also accused Jibrin of allocating N4.1bn to his constituency – Kiru/Bebeji Federal constituency of Kano State. The source also alleged that Jibrin tinkered with reports of all standing committees on the budget by cutting10 per cent of all capital votes of all ministries, departments and agencies across board and also taking from the personnel budgets of some MDAs, making it difficult for them to pay workers’ salaries.
Meanwhile, two of the principal officers of the House Representatives indicted by Jibrin, Ado-Doguwa, and Ogor, on Friday also gave reasons why the leadership of the House relieved its former Chairman, Committee on Appropriation of his position.
Ado-Doguwa, who is the Chief Whip of the House, is an All Progressives Congress lawmaker from Kano State like Jibrin.
Ogor is the Minority Leader of the House, and member of the Peoples Democratic Party from Delta State.
They were named by Jibrin, along with the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, and the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Yussuff Lasun, as the principal officers who demanded that he included projects worth N40bn in the 2016 budget for them.
Jibrin had alleged that his refusal to oblige the request set him on a path of disagreement with Dogara and the other three principal officers, culminating in his sacking on Wednesday.
He also stated that Dogara failed to act on reports he made that some committee heads were distorting the budgets of Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
Jibrin also alleged that his opposition to the proposal to grant immunity to presiding officers of the National Assembly was used against him by the Speaker.
But Ado-Doguwa claimed that Jibrin was not being truthful, adding that he made the accusations to let off his frustrations for being removed as a chairman.
Contrary to Jibrin’s allegations, Ado-Doguwa stated that the former committee chairman was largely responsible for the distortions in the 2016 budget, which generated a row between the National Assembly and the Presidency.
He added that it was “unheard of” that an appropriation committee chairman would work on a N6.06tn budget alone without involving his members.
Ado-Doguwa noted that the end result was “how he thoroughly messed up the budget, incurring the anger of his colleagues, but refusing to admit that he failed.”
In an electronic mail to Saturday PUNCH in Abuja, Ado-Doguwa explained further, “For me, as an individual and having been mentioned in the sacked chairman’s claims, I would like to say with all sense of responsibility that what his claims were frivolous and unfounded.
“As a principal officer, I know that Jibrin was only relieved of his appointment due to widespread outcries and disenchantment among members of his committee for gross anomalies and absolute non-inclusion of members of his committee in the discharge of the duties of his erstwhile committee.
“His case was further worsened by sheer disrespect to the leadership (of the House) and even the generality of other members in the House. Other issues to do with grievous controversies that set the National Assembly against the Executive Arm (on the budget) were largely generated by Jibrin when he was superintending the affairs of this very vital committee.
“These and so many other reasons warranted a very popular urge amongst members to remove him. Ultimately, the leadership was left with no option but to yield to the members’ demand.
“Other issues he raised on our attempt to ‘selfishly’ allocate funds to ourselves in the 2016- budget were also untrue. And his mischievous claims were borne out of his overzealous attempt to divert the public attention from the fact that he is the first in the history of the National Assembly that has woefully failed as a chairman of such an important committee in the parliament.”
Ado-Doguwa added that but for the fact that the House had already proceeded on recess, members would have taken “decisive actions” against him for bringing the House and its rules to “disrepute and parliamentary contempt” through his latest comments.
On his part, Ogor described Jibrin’s statement as “laughable.”
Ogor said Nigerians could easily remember that it was the same Jibrin who appeared on several television interviews, attacking the Presidency over the content of the 2016 budget, but in reality, was defending “his own inability to deliver as a committee chairman.”
Ogor asked Jibrin to tell Nigerians why he avoided mentioning the “N4bn” projects he built into the budget for his Bebeji Federal Constituency in Kano State.
“Who in the National Assembly has a project of N4bn in the budget? Yet, he got away with it and he is now opening his mouth to accuse the leadership of taking a decision that would have been taken long before now.”
He added that it would be wasting his time to speak on Jibrin’s “fabricated lies, coming from someone who doesn’t know his left from his right.”
Ogor challenged Jibrin to release the implicating documents he claimed to have in his possession.
“At the appropriate time, when we resume on the floor, we will speak, but I can assure you that they are all bunch of lies and there is nothing in it.
“I am not going to waste my time responding to an issue I consider to be inconsequential,” the minority leader said.
The House began its annual recess on Thursday and members will be away till September 13.
Saturday PUNCH made unsuccessful attempts to get the comments of the Majority Leader of the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, on the development.
He also did not respond to text messages sent to him.
Although, Gbajabiamila was not mentioned by Jibrin as having been among those who requested the N40bn projects, the convention since 1999, is that all principal officers get concessions in the budget.
Efforts to get Jibrin for further comments on Friday also failed as his telephone lines were unavailable.
…Jibrin demands probe of allegations
However, Jibrin, speaking through his lawyers on Friday, called for an investigation into the allegations he levelled against Dogara and others.
In a statement issued on his behalf by The Law Offices Of Messrs HAMMART & CO (LAW BOND SOLICITORS and DOKA CHAMBERS), Jibrin said he stood by the allegations and would “prove same” at the appropriate time.
Jibrin, who demanded that the allegations should be investigated by the House so that he could defend them, also alleged plans by Dogara, Lasun, Ado-Doguwa and Ogor to use the police to harass him.
He claimed that their plan was to restrict his freedom to free speech with the sole purpose of getting him to recant his statement.
Part of a statement his lawyers issued late on Friday, read, “We now have it on good authority that these quartet, acting in concert are at the moment using some elements within the police to monitor, harass, intimidate and hound our client into an unwarranted detention with the purpose of inhibiting his right to move freely and to express himself as contained in Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
“The purpose of their antics is to upturn the narrative and paint our client as the black sheep in the flock, and cleverly presenting themselves as transparent angels.
“Accordingly, we have made appropriate representations to the Inspector-General of Police and other relevant security agencies in the country, drawing their attention to these unwarranted and ill-intentioned steps taken by these quartet and not to allow themselves to be used to execute the personal objectives of these quartet.”
He claimed to have also taken “appropriate legal action” to protect his fundamental human rights.
The statement was jointly signed by Mohammed Abdulhamid, Chukwuma Nwachukwu and A.B. Bako.
Meanwhile, a member from Buhari’s Katsina home state, Mr. Danlami Muhammad-Kurfi, has berated Jibrin over his comments on the leadership of the House.
Kurfi, who represents Dutsinma/Kurfi Federal Federal Constituency, said it was unfortunate that Jibrin attempted to drag Buhari into “paying for his actions” by mentioning the President’ name in his Thursday statement.
He said, “Why did it take him this long to tell Mr. President that the speaker dines with his enemies?
“If this had happened while we were in session, some of us would have moved for his suspension.
“He has no regard for other members of the House and even members of his committee.”