Budget Padding: Jibrin Writes Buhari, Seeks Probe Of Dogara

Just days after he said he would not return to Nigeria until his safety was guaranteed, the suspended member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin, has written President Muhammadu Buhari, seeking the prosecution of the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara.

He also wants other principal officers — the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Yussuff Lasun; the Chief Whip, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; and the Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor — who he also accused of padding the 2016 budget arrested and prosecuted along with Dogara.

Jibrin had claimed in July that the four officers padded the budget by over N40bn, excluding other alleged infractions.

He made the allegations soon after he was sacked as the Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation for “abusing the 2016 budget.”

Jibrin, an All Progressives Congress lawmaker from Kano State, was later suspended after the House investigated him for “bringing the image of the House to disrepute and public ridicule.”

The lawmaker, who now resides in the United Kingdom, in his latest action, wrote an open letter to Buhari on the alleged budget corruption in the House.

The letter was titled, “Open letter to Mr. President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, on budget fraud and corruption in the House of Representatives.”

Therein, Jibrin stated that he wrote Buhari a few weeks earlier, seeking audience with him so as to brief him on the development in the House, but that he received no response or invitation from the Presidency.

Jibrin noted that though Buhari’s busy schedules might have hindered him from seeing him, he also believed that certain “forces” were working to ensure that he never meets with the President.

He said, “I crave the indulgence of your Excellency to pardon me for resorting to an open letter to draw your attention to this matter.

“The need to deal with the matter decisively and the urgency involved necessitated opting for this channel. Besides, I am aware of some powerful forces working behind the scenes in cohort with some members of leadership of the House to ensure that I never get access to you and the matter never sees the light of the day.”

Jibrin admitted that he had been part of the actions and decisions taken in the House, but explained that he became “frustrated” and fed up with the system by opting to speak out.

He said he spoke out because he did not understand how a legislature that was supposed to be fighting corruption was involved with internal corruption.

He recalled how he had petitioned anti-graft agencies and the Department of State Services, but was surprised that none of the principal officers had yet to be arrested.

The letter read further, “Sir, this is an institution that is supposed to support you in fighting corruption.

“You have taken on corruption and corrupt people decisively; the crusade will be incomplete if corrupt elements are allowed to infest the legislative arm, especially the House of Representatives.

“You should by now know that you will never get the required support to fight corruption with Dogara as Speaker of the House and most importantly if reforms are not implemented in the House.

“Your Excellency, let me use this opportunity to inform you that I have challenged my suspension in court because it is unconstitutional and the seat belongs to my constituents, who are proud of my anti-corruption crusade in the House.

“My constituents have also filed a case in court to challenge the suspension. I have also stated clearly that I will never apologise to any member in the House or the House itself, as I did not commit any offence and I will continue to stand by all the allegations I raised.”

Jibrin claimed that the principal officers were doing everything within their powers to suppress the issue, including seizing opportunities to “blackmail” Buhari by declining to approve requests he might send to the National Assembly.

Besides the prosecution of the principal officers, the suspended member called for an end to the allowances regime in the House, “publish all entitlements of members; stop budget fraud; disclose internal budget of the House; open up finances of the House for external audit; implement e-parliament; activate electronic voting and attendance system; introduce individual members’ and standing committees’ performance template…”

He also said the N40bn should be returned to the N100bn sub-head for zonal intervention projects in the budget, while the projects listed against the principal officers should not be implemented.

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