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Saturday, 24 September 2016

A stand with Dogara is a stand with fraud – Jibrin tells colleagues

A former Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Abdulmumin Jibrin, says he is on a mission to expose corruption in the House and push for reforms that will clean up the House for the Nigerian people, noting that members of the House can either StandWithDogara or StandWithNigerians.

He,however, told members of the Lower Chamber that “a stand with Dogara is a stand with fraud”.

Jibrin had alleged that the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, attempted to pad N30 billion into the 2016 budget, adding that “in cleaning up the budgeting system and considering what transpired during 2016 budget which I have all the facts documented, Speaker Dogara, Deputy Speaker Lasun, Whip Doguwa and minority Leader Leo Ogor should resign.”

Responding to the invitation letter which the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges sent to him, the lawmaker vowed to ‘continue the struggle even if he ends up being alone, and that he stands by, “all my allegations against Mr Speaker and 3 other Principal Officers and will pursue the matter in collaboration with the anti-graft agencies, other groups and well-meaning Nigerians until justice is served.”

He expressed shock that the panel was investigating him for alleged breach of lawmakers privileges, rather than probe the budget padding allegations he leveled against the leadership of the 8th assembly.

The letter reads in part…

With reference to your letter on the above subject matter dated 22nd September, 2016, I write to state the following positions.

You will recall that in my letter to all Hon Members ahead of the resumption of the House, I stated clearly in my recommendations that I did not believe you have the ability to be an impartial arbiter.

To refresh your memory, I stated in the letter that “The Speaker Pro Tempore should constitute an Adhoc Committee to investigate these allegations in collaboration with the on-going external investigation by the anti-graft agencies. This has become necessary because from some public and private comments made by the incumbent Chairman of the Ethics and Privilege Committee, he has become an interested party in the matter and his ability to be impartial is in doubt. Also some of the members, including myself, who sit as members of the committee are interested party in the matter.”

You called me after reading my letter and tried to explain your public statement and further made efforts to convince me that you will indeed be impartial. I listened to you but I had my doubts.

Subsequent events after the sitting of Wednesday 21st September and specifically our conversation on phone when you called me on the 21st and 22nd have further affirmed my misgivings and convinced me beyond reasonable doubt that you CANNOT be impartial.

You will recall that when you called me on 21st, you tried to assuage my doubts and encouraged me to appear. I told you clearly I will appear under the condition that the proceedings will be public with access given to both print and electronic media, Civil Society Organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations, Nigerian Labour Congress, Nigerian Bar Association, Academic Staff Union of Universities, National Association of Nigerian Students and the general public.

I made it clear to you that it is under such arrangement that I will feel comfortable that the investigation, proceedings and outcome will not be manipulated or compromised. I requested that these assurances be included in the letter of invitation you will send to me. I cited an instance, asking you “what if on a hearing day, the public and press are shut out or are prevented from having access to House knowing the extend of the powers of the Speaker? What will happen?” You promised to get back to me the following day.

The next day you called we had the same conversation and concluded that you will put everything in writing. You can imagine my shock and disappointment when I saw your verge letter. Even more shocking was when I discovered the entire hearing is not to probe my allegations but to probe a so called breach of privilege of members and misconduct by me.

Mr Chairman, your letter clearly indicates that mischief is in the offing. You are inviting an accused to appear before you without telling him his offense. You did not state how I breached the privileges of the House and Members. You did not state the name of which Member’s privileges I breached so that I can take on the Member or Members and see if they can stand corruption test. You did not state the precedents and practices that I breached. You did not state what I did that amounted to misconduct so even if I intend to attend, I can know what exactly I am being accused of and come prepared.

Mr. Chairman, what further deepens my pessimism is the fact that in your letter, you indicated that you were inviting me to appear before your committee on Monday 26th September, 2016, but surprisingly you announced to the press that I shunned your invitation. This is clear indication that the outcome of your “investigation” is already predetermined.

May I draw your attention to the fact that the privileges of the House and Members do not accord the former and later immunity to being exposed if involved in corrupt practices and equally exposing budget fraud and corruption does not amount to misconduct. These are all service to the nation worthy of commendation. I strongly believe that you will be doing a great service to the country if you concentrate on investigating the privileges of Nigerians that Speaker Dogara and few other members have grossly breached and further investigate the misconduct therein.

You also did not find it worthy to investigate the grievous allegations I made against Mr Speaker and few others or even why the Speaker is yet to address all the allegations I made against him and summit himself to the security and anti-graft agencies to clear his name two months after I submitted my petitions.

It is obvious that the Committee on Ethics can not be impartial in dealing with this matter. I urge you and the Members of your Committee not to join this grand plan against the people of Nigeria to use the House as a shield to cover a small cabal which instituted corruption in the House for their benefits. I call on you to fear God and search your conscience.

Mr Chairman, I am on a crusade to expose corruption in the House and push for reforms that will clean up the House for the Nigerian people. There is no going back on this and I will continue this struggle even if I end up alone. I stand on all my allegations against Mr Speaker and 3 other Principal Officers and will pursue the matter in collaboration with the anti-graft agencies, other groups and well-meaning Nigerians until justice is served. The House does not belong to 360 Members but 200 million Nigerians. Nobody can cow me into silence.

Mr Chairman, this is a rare opportunity for us to salvage the House once and for all for the Nigerian people. I call on you to be part of this history. Members of the House have only two option before them, to either StandWithDogara or StandWithNigerians. A stand with Dogara is a stand with fraud and corruption. I stand with Nigerians.

Who do you stand with?

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