Members of the House of Representatives are currently divided over allegations of budget padding against the leadership of the House
– While a group has begun to gather signatures for Speaker Dogara’s impeachmenrt, the speaker is also rallying members to gather support ahead of resumption
– Abdulmumin Jibrin, the member who spilled the ‘beans’ has, on his own, vowed to continue to churn out more until the speaker is removed from office
Multiple sources at the House of Representatives confirmed Friday, July 29, 2016 that the impeachment process of embattled Speaker Yakubu Dogara has commenced.
Embattled Speaker Yakubu Dogara is said to be rallying friends within the House against possible impeachment
Dogara is not the only principal officer on this journey, according to the sources. His deputy, Yussuf Suleimon Lasun, chief whip, Alhassan Ado Doguwa and minority leader, Leo Ogorther, all indicted by Abdulmumin Jibrin, former chairman of the committee on appropriation, will also be sent packing.
Though the House is supposedly on recess, the legislators who spoke with our correspondent said some members are already championing the cause to have the indicted officers removed.
“We have started collecting signatures to have them removed because the allegations amount to a dent on the integrity of, not just the House, but the National Assembly.
“We know these things have been going on for quite a ling time. I was part of those who told the leadership of the House that we would not agree to padding this time. Dogara agreed with us.
“So we are shocked that despite our efforts to sanitise the system, Dogara and his clique still found a way around the budget and inserted items after the budget had been passed and on transition to the executive arm,” one of the legislators from Lagos explained.
Asked if he was already declaring Dogara guilty, he said: “It is not a matter of declaring anyone guilty here. We are members of the House and we know all that happens.
“Each time budgets are padded, legislators only grumble, but refused to speak out because of fear of being victimised by those hitherto considered very powerful.
“We must begin to adopt the style of the advanced countries where you have to resign when indicted on issues as weighty as the one currently before us,” he added.
Jibrin had revealed, some days ago, that he was forced to by the speaker and some others to pad the budget with N40 billion.
The speaker has denied this claim and threatened to sue if Jibrin refuses to withdraw the allegation that amounts to libel.
But rather than apologise, Jibrin declared that he was already in touch with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC).
It is believed that Jibrin, a former close ally of Dogara, has documents to prove that there was indeed padding by those indicted.
On Thursday, he asked Dogara to tell Nigerians how a government water project in the budget found its way to the speaker’s farm in Nasarawa.
Another legislator and member of the Transparency Group of the House told NAIJ.com that the issue had gone beyond the House and that his group is advocating for an investigation to be conducted by an external body.
“For us, our argument is that if the ethics and privileges committee handles the issue, there would be no headway. We therefore want investigation by external bodies.
“As I speak to you, we already have over 15 members of the House compiling petitions against Dogara and his group. In the next few days, the anti-graft agencies will receive several petitions,” he said reminding that he is not the spokesperson for the group.
A lawmaker from Bauchi, who is though in Dogara’s camp, expressed worry that the nature of allegations against the speaker calls for thorough investigation.
“Some of us support the speaker, not because we are not sure that he actually did what they said he did, but because he is our person, from our area.
“Ordinarily, some of us are pissed. You can imagine where one person gets very huge allocations to his constituency while his colleagues from the same state get next to nothing. The constituents would not understand the politics involved in this thing, they will just conclude that their representative has failed.
“I can tell you that there is serious heat. The speaker is also not resting, he is trying to build support base ahead of resumption, but I can tell you it is not easy,” he said, adding however that Jibrin should also face prosecution for being an accomplice in the first instance.
Jibrin, in a statement on Thursday, July 28, had given a hint that the speaker would be removed.
“When a new speaker emerges and the other principal officers are replaced, I will write to the presiding officers of both chambers to commence a radical internal reform in the entire NASS, beyond budget to cover performance assessment, running cost and allowances, investigations, etc.
“If the reforms so done on NASS is not made public, latest by December, I shall take it up and lay before the general public even if I am alone.
“The idea is to do a cleanup, flush out corruption and corrupt members so that in 2019 only corrupt free people who want to serve will come in.
“God Almighty knows I am not perfect but as I approach 40 years in September, I have always wondered what is it that I can live and die for,” he said.
When NAIJ.com contacted Honourable Abdulrazak Namdas, the chairman of the committee on information, his phone was said to be out of service.
However, the House had earlier given its own side of the story declaring that all the allegations were lies by Jibrin.
The House also said Jibrin was removed as appropriation committee chairman against his own claim that he actually resigned from the committee.