ABUJA – By Olusegun Lawrence Embattled former Chairman of the Appropriation Committee in the House of Representatives, Abdulmumin Jibrin has reacted to the decision of the House to refer his matter to the Ethics and Privileges Committee.
He has however said he would only appear before the Committee if the hearing would be public.
Jibrin is accusing Speaker Yakubu Dogara, his Deputy, Yusuf Lasun and other Principal Officers of the House of padding the 2016 budget to the tune of billions of Naira, asking Mr Dogara to resign.
The House had at a session which turned rowdy on Wednesday referred allegation of breach of members’ privilleges levelled against Jibrin to the Ethics Committee.
But reacting, Jibrin had this to say “I attended the sitting of the House today (Wednesday) and carefully observed the proceedings concerning the allegations of budget fraud and corruption I levelled against Speaker Dogara and three other Principal Officers.
“But rather than open up the matter for discussion in view of the public interest it has generated and allow me to brief my colleagues, an opportunity I have been denied for several months, Mr Speaker deployed some legislative tricks and theatrics to save the day.
“Speaker Dogara granted under point of order, an opportunity to the Chairman of Business and Rules Committee who started with a speech then suddenly transited to a motion under privilege – a clear case of manipulation and gross abuse of the House rule.
“This is the easiest resort since the attempts to secure a vote of confidence had woefully failed.
“The motion was therefore passed and referred to the Committee on Ethics and Privilege with one week to submit its report.
“The grand plan is to dilute the ongoing external investigation by the police and EFCC and use the Ethics Committee for a soft landing.
“But what happened on the floor of the House today is just the end of another beginning.
“I have never lived with the illusion that this matter will be a sprint, knowing the deeply rooted corrupt interest of a few cabal in the House headed by Speaker Dogara.
“I have all the stamina and agility to go the marathon and ensure justice is served.
“I have said repeatedly I stand by my allegations and will continue this struggle to expose the 2016 budget fraud and corruption in the House even if I am alone.
“I will therefore continue to cooperate with the anti-graft agencies who are already investigating the matter and will also proceed to build a massive coalition with Civil Society Organisations and other well-meaning Nigerians to ensure that this matter is not swept under the carpet of the Green Chamber.
“The House of Representatives belongs to Nigerians not only the 360 members.
“Despite all these and since I can substantiate the allegations I raised with cogency.
“I will take up the opportunity provided by the Ethics committee to state my case under the condition that the hearing will be public and will allow the Press, CSOs, NGOs, NLC, ASUU, NANS, NBA and the general public to witness the entire proceedings.
“This is the only way that I can have the comfort and confidence that the proceedings, the investigations and the outcome will not be manipulated or compromised.”