APC INTERVENES IN REPS BUDGET PADDING PALAVER, INVITES ALL THE PARTIES TO MEETING TODAY

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) monday made effort to intervene in the media war rocking its members in the House of Representatives over allegations of padding the 2016 budget.

The party therefore invited the lawmakers on its platform for an emergency meetingto resolve the crisis.

In a letter dated August 1, 2016 and signed by the APC Deputy National Chairman, North, Senator Lawal Shuaibu, the party said the refusal of its members in the lower chamber to respond to its calls and text messages necessitated the invitation letter to them.

It said: “The letter was the last resort to get in touch and to invite you to appear before a committee headed by Senator Shuaibu, at the party’s national secretariat, to discuss the current imblioglio in the House of Representatives.”

The party noted that “As a disciplined party, the constitution of our party has made adequate provisions on ways of resolving any issue among our members. To say the least, it is absolutely unacceptable to resort to media war as a means of settling scores without recourse to and/or exhausting the party’s internal dispute resolution mechanism.”

It added that it behooves on the party to take all necessary steps to ensure no member of the family brings dishonour to the party.

The party mandated its members to appear before the Shuaibu-led committee today at its national secretariat by 2p.m.

It warned that “failure to and/refusal to honour the invitation will amount to a decision you have made not to submit to the party,” adding that “while expecting you to honour this invitation, we urge you to be guided accordingly

Meanwhile, after keeping mum for over a week on the crises that has engulfed the House of Representatives, the Majority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has cautioned against passing judgment on persons accused of corrupt practices, saying they are all innocent until proven otherwise.

Crises erupted in the House following the removal of Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Jibrin Abdulmumin, by the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara.
Abdulmumin had since been making damning allegations against Dogara, Deputy Speaker, Yussuff Sulaimon Lasun; Chief Whip, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, and Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, accusing them of corrupt practices and abuse of office.

Gbajabiamila, in an e-mail to members, appealed for the mudslinging to stop.
“On the budget issue at hand, it is clear that our budget process needs radical reform and very quickly too. Yes, allegations have been made but I strongly believe judgment should not be passed based on allegations.

“We operate a constitutional democracy and we must at all times submit to its dictates and ethos. All parties are innocent until otherwise proven. This should be our guide. I plead with all members. The mudslinging must stop,” he said.

He also denied striking a deal with Abdulmumin, to keep fanning the embers of discord in the lower chamber and effect a change in the leadership.

Abdulmumin has been calling for the resignation, arrest and prosecution of Dogara, Lasun, Doguwa and Ogor for corrupt practices and abuse of office.

There have been speculations that Gbajabiamila, who is allegedly eyeing the speakership position, promised Abdulmumin a plum portfolio if Dogara is removed.

This was said to have allegedly informed why Abdulmumin has kept the House leader out of the list of principal officers, who he accused of making ‘senseless’ insertions in the budget, and projects worth billions to their constituencies.

A lawmaker who spoke to THISDAY off the record said all principal officers made insertions in the budget as its ‘normal practice’.

“So why has he not mentioned Gbajabiamila? He has insertions worth N2.8 billion in his constituency and other places,” the lawmaker queried.

Gbajabiamila, in the e-mail exonerated himself. The e-mail, obtained by THISDAY reads: “Since the budget controversy that engulfed the House about a week ago, I have pointedly maintained a dignified silence. I did this for the sake of the institution I represent and which I have laboured hard to grow and protect, knowing that whatever I say could be impactful both within the House and outside it. I was determined to keep in place the glue that holds an otherwise fragmented House, protect its integrity and at same time avoid eroding the little confidence and vestiges of hope Nigerians have in us.

“Unfortunately, the controversy has now taken a different turn following the rather strange if not comical text making the rounds among members about my complicity in this rather sordid matter. I am being dragged into an arena I tried very hard to stay out of only for the good of the House.
“The speakership election has come and gone. The election was divisive and acrimonious but I have since worked hard to heal the wounds some of which still fester among members on both sides. It is my responsibility to bring all tendencies in a House I lead together and I have worked well with the Speaker and all other principal officers in a bi- partisan manner and in the interest of the institution and the country.

“This text message, which desperately seeks to finger me in some macabre plot to destabilise the House is a throw back and echoes our dark post speakership election history. The resurfacing or resurgence of the faceless text messengers will not help us as a House, and let me quickly add that it will fail.

“My strongest critics and biggest political adversaries in the House cannot deny the fact that my commitment has always been to strengthen the legislature and its processes and our democracy as a whole. I consider everyone a friend and colleague and urge that as we collectively work towards a stronger legislature and strive to deepen our democracy, we do not pull back the hands of the clock nor lose sight of the enormous responsibility placed upon us by providence as members of a critical arm of government.

“On the budget issue at hand, it is clear that our budget process needs radical reform and very quickly too. Yes, allegations have been made but I strongly believe judgment should not be passed based on allegations. We operate a constitutional democracy and we must at all times submit to its dictates and ethos. All parties are innocent until otherwise proven. This should be our guide. I plead with all members. The mudslinging must stop.”

Meanwhile, Abdulmumin yesterday made good his threat and submitted petitions alleging corrupt practices and abuse of office against Dogara, and 12 others, to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Nigerian Police.

Those mentioned in the petition sighted by THISDAY are Lasun, Doguwa, Ogor, Chairman, Committee on Federal Capital Territory, Hon. Herma Hembe; Chairman, Committee on Basic Education, Hon. Zakari Mohammed. and Chairman, Committee on Health Services, Hon. Chike Okafor.

Other accused persons in the petition are Chairman Committee on Power, Hon. Dan Asuquo; Chairman, Committee on Interior; Hon. Jagaba Adams Jagaba; Chairman, Committee on Police Affairs, Hon. Haliru Jika’ Chairman, Committee on House Services, Hon. Babble Ila and Chairman, Committee on Public Petitions, Hon. Uzoma Nkem Abonta.

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