For the past two weeks, the House of Representatives has been in the eye of the storm for the wrong reasons. The padding controversy associated with the 2016 budget has continued unabated. Nigerians and indeed the international community have come to know who padded what and how.
Since AbdulmuminJibrin was relieved as Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation on July 20, there have been allegations and counter-allegations between him and the leadership of the House.
Jibrin has leveled several allegations against the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara; Deputy Speaker, Yusuf Lasun; Chief Whip, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, and Minority Leader, Leo Ogor of inserting personal projects into the 2016 budget amounting to N100 billion.
He also accused the speaker of allegedly requesting for the insertion of about N30 billion worth of personal projects, as well as bribing some lawmakers with $25,000 for a vote of confidence.
Reacting, Dogara dismissed all the allegations against him and vowed not to resign. He argued that he has not committed any offence, insisting that “budget padding” is not an offence under the law.
Even before the speaker’s recent visit to President Muhammadu Buhari, many have urged him and other accused persons to step aside, so as to allow for external probe into the allegations.
One of such groups is the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, which argued that the accused persons have compromised the integrity of the 2016 budget and therefore should step aside for proper investigation to be carried out.
In an open letter to the speaker, SERAP asked Dogara to step aside to allow investigations by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and other agencies.
A letter dated July 29 and signed by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said “Following confirmation received by SERAP from the EFCC that it has taken up and looking into its petition on the allegations that the leadership of the House of Representatives padded the 2016 budget to the tune of N481 billion, SERAP is now writing to request you to immediately step aside from your position as the speaker of the House pending the outcome of the investigation.
“We also urge you to ensure that other principal officers of the House, suspected to be involved in the alleged padding, step aside from their positions to allow for investigation by the EFCC and other agencies to go ahead unhindered.”
A human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, said leaders of the House, who had been implicated in the budget padding scam, should step aside from their positions in order to give way for thorough investigations.
He said all those involved should step aside the same as Jibrin, who was also accused of padding the budget with N4 billion projects for his constituency in Kano State, was removed.
“Since Jibrin has stepped down. It is logical that others, who have been implicated in the scam, should step down,” Falana said.
But come to think of it, why is Jibrin making all these allegations after he had been sacked? What stopped him from making them before now? Are all these allegations to get even with Dogara and others? Can he defend these allegations with concrete evidence?
It is a common saying in law that he who alleges must provide proof. It will be a matter of time before Jibrin appears before the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges and perhaps the police and EFCC to clear the air as regards all the allegations he has raised against the speaker and other principal officers.


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