Budget Padding: ‘Why Dogara, others are after me, by Jibrin

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Ex-Chairman, House of Representatives’ Appropriation Committee  Abdulmumin Jibrin yesterday explained why the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, and other principal officers sought his expulsion.
Jibrin said he attracted the wrath of the leadership when, as chair of the Appropriation Committee, he rejected alleged proposals by Dogara and others to corner about N90 billion to themselves from the 2016 budget.
He made the claim in a fresh document at the Federal High Court, Abuja, in furtherance of his suit, seeking to, among others, restrain the House from suspending him.
Defendants are the House of Representatives; Clerk of the House; Dogara; Yusuf Lasun, Dogara’s deputy; Alhassan Ado Doguwa; Leo Ogor; Herman Hembe; Umar Mohammed Bago; Zakari Mohammed; Chike Okafor; Dan Asuquo; Jagaba Adams; Haliru Jika and Uzoma Abonta.
In the document filed yesterday, Jibrin, an All Progressives Congress (APC) legislator, representing Kiru/Bebeji in Kano State, said he had conflicts with the House leadership because he rejected their unlawful directives.
He said in the document – a counter-affidavit – deposed to on his behalf by his lawyer, Nura Abdulrrahman, that one of such instances was his “refusal to admit into the budget about N30 billion.
“His refusal to cover up the decision of the third to fourteenth defendants’ (Dogara and others’) unilateral decision to allocate to themselves N40 billion of the N100 billion allocated to the National Assembly, in addition to what he (Jibrin) considered as wasteful projects of over N20 billion to the third to fourteenth defendants’ constituencies.
“Even when he (Jibrin) had given the defendants/respondents, especially the third (Dogara) statistics of 2,000 new projects introduced into the Appropriation Bill by less than 10 committee members, the third defendant took no decision or corrective.
“When the inflation of the budget became a matter of public interest and controversy, the defendant, especially the third to fourteenth, started taking measures to avoid responsibility and to place the issue on the shoulders of the plaintiff to use him (Jibrin) as a scapegoat,” Abdulrrahman said.
Jibrin denied claims by Dogara that he (the plaintiff) was removed as chair of the Appropriation Committee, saying he resigned, and informed Dogara on July 20, 2016.
Against the defendants’ claim that they were not planning to suspend Jibrin, and that the House did not intend to reconvene before the end of its vacation, Jibrin said Dogara and others were plotting to reopen the House and suspend him.
He urged the court to proceed to determine his case and grant his reliefs, including a declaration that the defendants’ decision at a meeting of August 3, 2016, to suspend the plaintiff without a fair hearing is unlawful.
Jibrin also seeks a declaration that the defendants should  comply with sections 49, 54, 56 and 60 of the 199 Constitution and the Standing Orders of the House, regulating its sitting, procedure and other matters.
Dogara and others have, in the notice of preliminary objection filed on Tuesday, urged the court to decline jurisdiction to hear the case and strike it out on the grounds that the suit showed “no reasonable cause of action.”
Clerk of the Appropriation Committee Dr. Abel Ochigbo faulted Jibrin’s claims, saying  there was no plan to suspend him and that no meeting was held to that effect.
Ochigbo, who deposed to the affidavit supporting the defendants’ objection, said all that was done in the process leading to passage of the budget was within the law.
He added that since the budget has become law, nobody could query steps taken by the lawmakers.
“The 2016 Appropriation Act was duly passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the President. The issue of any officer of the House taking any decisive action against any particular member or members does not arise as the Appropriation Bill has now become the Appropriation Act’’.
“The issue of inflation of the 2016 budget does not arise as the Appropriation Bill was passed by the House of Representatives pursuant to powers vested in the House by the Constitution and in line with the Standing Orders of the House.
“The Bill was duly certified pursuant to the provisions of the Acts Authentication Act before it was duly assented to by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and it is now being executed as an Act of the National Assembly.”

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