National leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC, yesterday drilled the former chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Hon Abdulmimin Jibrin, over the allegation of budget padding made by him against the speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara and some members.
This came even a coalition of media and civil society organisations yesterday challenged the former chairman of the House Appropriations Committee on and other “aggrieved” members of the House to approach the court to prove their allegations of padding of the 2016 budget against the Speaker Dogara and the others.
However, thye APC summoned the embattled lawmaker to the party’s national secretariat through a letter signed by the deputy national chairman for the northern zone of the party, Lawal Shuaibu.
In the letter, the party chided Hon Jibrin for taking the matter, which would have been amicably resolved within the party, to public domain, saying the action was unacceptable.
The letter read: “As a disciplined party, the constitution of our party has made adequate provisions on ways of resolving any issue among our members. It behoves on the party to take all necessary steps in order to ensure that no member of the Family brings dishonour to the party.
“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.
“You are, therefore, by this invitation, expected to appear before the undersigned at the APC National Secretariat on Tuesday, 2nd August, 2016, at 2 p.m. Kindly note that failure to and/or refusal to honour this invitation will amount to a decision you have made not to submit to the party,” the letter said.
In compliance with the directive of the party, Jibrin arrived the party’s secretariat decked in white flowing caftan around 2.07pm in a black Toyota Land Cruiser, with registration number BWA 768 AM, and went straight to Shuaibu’s office where he met the leaders of the party, including the party’s national secretary, Mai Mala Buni, national treasurer, Bala Muhammed Gwagwarwa, and national vice chair, Inuwa Abdulkadir.
After about three hours, Hon Jibrin came out of the meeting looking downcast and told journalists that the leaders of the party discussed the issue of alleged budget padding with him.
“I’m here on the invitation of our party, the APC. We discussed extensively on the crisis in the House of Representatives. We will continue to discuss and engage ourselves, I will continue to honour the invitation of our party and I am sure that whatever it is we decide you will know in the due course,” he said.
After Jibrin’s departure, Senator Shuaibu told journalists that the party wanted to get to the bottom of the alleged budget padding.
“We are discussing with them and it is an ongoing consultation, we are not done with them, we sat with the speaker, we just finished sitting with him and we would continue to sit with him.
“I want to say that what we discussed, honestly speaking, was to get a better brief on what is happening because we have to be carried along. They are our members; we should know from them directly what is really going on so that we can see how we can handle the situation without necessary making it a town square dance.
“In respect of what is going on in the house of representatives which you people know more than all of us but I asked him to come and brief the party, honestly speaking we never thought it would be covered by the media.
“I summoned him, the national secretary of the party and the national vice chairman of his zone sat down to discuss, there is nothing like passing any Judgment on any member of the party, we only play our role as the umpire in this matter to see how we can create some atmosphere of peace and unity among our members.
“But when certain things go wrong of course, the party needs to call its members to know how best to unite any feuding members and that is exactly what we did.
“What we did actually was that we heard from him. We have heard earlier from the speaker but because it was not in the newspapers, like you just went and published nobody knew we held a meeting with the speaker,” he said.
Nigerian Pilot also gathered that the APC leaders also met with Speaker Dogara in his residence earlier in the day over the impasse in the National Assembly.
Budget padding: Go to court or shut up- Group tells Jibrin
Meanwhile, a coalition of media and civil Society organisations has called on Hon Abdulmumin Jibrin and other aggrieved lawmakers to proceed to the court to swear to affidavit on the allegations of padding of the 2016 budget levelled against the Speaker Yakubu Dogara and 10 others.
Reacting to the submission of petitions to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC, by Hon Jibrin, the CSOs declared that by going to court and swearing to affidavits that the allegations against principal officer of the House padded the budget, the lawmaker stands the risk of perjury if his allegations were found to be false.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja yesterday, spokesperson of the group, who is also the executive director, Africa Media Roundtable Initiative, Comrade Olabode Adeyemi said that this would allow the judiciary, which is the third arm of the government, to wade in and adjudicate over the matter in good time rather than approaching the anti-graft agencies set up by the executive.
According to Comrade Adeyemi, “We are calling on Hon Jibrin and other aggrieved lawmakers to seek redress in the court to protect the image of the House of Representatives and not going to either the EFCC or ICPC which are the agencies of the Executives.
“If you approach the court, you have to swear to affidavit before making your allegations and if you lied under oath, you know the consequences under the law but you go to the ICPC or the EFCC to make such allegations, you may later make a u-turn and changed you statements.
“I can remember vividly that when the 2016 was passed by the National Assembly, there were insinuations in some quarters that it was padded, it was this same Hon Jibrin that defended it when he told the whole nation that there was nothing like budget padding, he never spoke out against the House leaders until he was sacked from the plum job. If what he is saying is true, let him go to court to seek redress.
“We are thanking the Channels Television for repeatedly showing the whole world the video clips of his defence now that there was nothing like budget padding, why is he now claiming that there was budget padding by the speaker and 10 others? If he is sure of his allegations, he should go to court or shut up.”
While cautioning against attempts by certain individuals at bringing the nation’s legislature to disrepute, Comrade Adeyemi maintained that the stability of the nation’s democracy depended largely on the legislature, hence the need to protect its sanctity.