Former Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Abdulmumin Jibrin, has reiterated that allegations of budget padding levied by him against the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, and other principal members should not be taken as an attack on the House as an institution, just as he made four fresh startling revelations.
In a statement he personally signed and released to the media on Sunday, Jibrin gave details of how the process of screening the 2016 budget by the appropriations committee was hijacked by Dogara and a cabal within the House.
According to him, the relationship between him and Dogara turned sour long before the budget padding issue came to the fore.
He further said ‘The other members of the body of principal officers were to the best of my knowledge completely excluded from decisions on the 2016 budget and the budget inputs inserted on their names were exclusively carried out by the ‘Quartet’ of Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Deputy Speaker Yusuf Lasun, House Whip Alhassan Doguwa and Minority Leader Leo Ogor.
Making the fresh ‘revealations’, Jibrin said “ONE: During the budget period, when they discovered that I was not the kind of a person they could use to perpetrate their illegality, Mr Speaker and the 3 other principal officers took away the entire Appropriation Committee Secretariat to a secret location where all sort of insertions were made into the budget.
“The blackmail has always been – ‘Abdul people will laugh at you if anything goes wrong between you and Dogara because of the lead role you played and the many toes you stepped on to get him elected’ – It’s been a painful experience.
“Again the secretariat was taken away from me on Speaker Dogara’s instruction for the second time to a location I don’t know and all sort of insertions into the budgets were made and returned to me for signature. I said over my dead body! It was a massive crisis behind the scene until the early morning of the Friday that Mr President assented the budget. It was Sen Danjuma Goje that brokered a compromise that since the Deputy Speaker leads the harmonization committee, he should also sign such that the harmonization committee will share responsibility with us. Senator Goje pleaded with me so hard all night and later shouted heavily on me reminding me that he is not talking to me as a Senator but as a father. I cried heavily all night.
“TWO: When the budget harmonization committee headed by Deputy Speaker Yusuf Lasun gave out 80% concession across board to the executive demands during the harmonization negotiation, it was agreed that the remaining 20% should go to the entire NASS. The Deputy Speaker excused himself that he wanted to go and consult with Mr Speaker.
“He came back after few hours and in an unprecedented display of greed presented to me a hand written note distributing the remaining 20% to only principal officers. 70% of the 20% was reserved for Mr Speaker and himself while the remaining 30% of the 20% goes to other principal officers. I am sure he will recognize the handwriting when he sees it. My colleagues didn’t know all of these.
“THREE: Mr Speaker also directed me to create what I advised him will be a controversial line item under service wide vote to introduce about N20 billion project using the name of NASS. He directed me to see a highly placed PDP politician which I did and collected the documents. I advised him repeatedly against it but he kept pressuring me until I bluntly told him I will not!
“FOUR: When the Appropriation Committee received all the budget reports from standing committees, an analysis was conducted. We discovered that about 10 only out of the 96 Standing Committees of the House introduced about 2,000 (two thousand) projects without the knowledge of their committee members amounting to about N284, 000, 000, 000 (Two hundred and eighty-four billion naira).
“I was alarmed. But I was cautious because at our pre-budget meeting with the committee chairmen, I was clearly warned not to touch their budgets. I reported the matter to the speaker. He did nothing about it obviously because he was working behind the scene with the committee chairmen. That was the beginning of the whole budget problem from the side of House and the whole exercise had to go through several versions before it was passed.”
Alleging that the ‘Quartet’ have resorted to desperate moves to drag the entire House of Representatives into the case of gross abuse of office he levelled against them, Jibrin claimed they also recruited four from the ‘very few’ members of ‘their cabal’ to use some elements of the Nigeria police to kidnap, harass, blackmail and intimidate him into silence.
“Until yesterday, the police were laying siege by my house blocking the entrance and exit shouting that they want budget documents. They embarrassed my entire family with a nursing mother and a seven-month old baby that cried all night.
“The game plan was to arrest me and dump me in police net while a heavy media propaganda will be carried out to mislead the world that I have been sacked and police have picked me up as a culprit in 2016 budget. Whenever I am released, an irreparable damage would have been done to my person and that will stick for life.”
He however called on his colleagues in the House “to plead with Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Deputy Lasun, Whip Doguwa and Minority leader Ogor to stop obstructing justice and allow me my right to be heard by the House. It is the House that will institute a special investigation on this matter to allow me testify and provide evidence before any other external action.”