Budget Padding Is A ‘Misrepresentation Of Facts’ – Deputy Speaker

Yusuf Lasun, Reps, Budget Padding, 2016 Budget, House of RepresentativesThe Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Lasun Yusuf, has described as misrepresentation of facts, the widespread allegations of padding of the 2016 budget.

He said that contrary to rumours being peddled around the country, there was no section of the appropriation bill that was padded.

The lawmaker explained that the legislature had in exercise of the power conferred on it by the constitution, reallocated figure in the budget estimates as presented by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He made the disclosure while delivering a lecture at the 17th edition of the media parliament of Kwara State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).

Mr Yusuf spoke on the ‘Challenges of Law-making and the Delivery of Dividend of Democracy in Nigeria’ during the gathering at the Abubakar Olusola Saraki Pen House in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.

He explained that it was the exclusive preserve of the legislative arm to rework annual fiscal document tabled before it by the executive, stating that such document remains “an estimate and not real budget”.

The former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Mr Abdulmumin Jibrin, who had blown the lid that some principal officers of the lower chamber of the National Assembly partook in the budget padding scam, was suspended from office.

His allegation had ignited public outrage against the National Assembly while the House maintained that the budget was not padded as alleged.

Abdulmumin Jibrin, House, Budget padding
Mr Abdulmumin Jibrin

Budget Padding Debacle

The Deputy Speaker, however, told the gathering in Ilorin that the allegations against the leadership of the House by the suspended lawmaker were of no effect and could not be substantiated, insisting that the House acted within its powers.

He stated that the House was empowered to reallocate and reconcile figures in the budget estimates that were believed not to be properly done.

Honourable Yusuf decried that many Nigerians were ignorant of the works of the legislative arm and were fond of passing verdict without verifiable facts on some allegations levelled against the lawmakers.

He explained further that it was the primary responsibility of the law-making body to scrutinise budget estimates submitted by the executive arm, adding that members could use the avenue to address pressing needs of their people.

“While the executive makes proposals on projects, programmes and expenditure for every year, the legislature finally approves figures that are spent.

“In the process, the legislature often interfaces with the executive to have certain projects and programmes form part of (the) budget.

“This is necessary as I have said earlier because the closeness of the legislator to the constituents must have emerged from that environment.

“It is critical that certain pressing areas requiring government attention are suggested and included in the estimates.

“Unfortunately, the poor understanding of the fine details of legislative practice anchored on the express provision of the constitution erroneously informed the so-called budget padding debacle which was a distraction to the polity.

“For instance, the case of 50-year-old Ojutu Bridge in my constituency that has great potentials in turning around the lives of my constituents,” Yusuf said.

Jibrin’s Suspension: Judge’s Absence Stalls Suit Against House

House of Representatives, Abdulmumuni Jibrin, Budget Padding, JudgeThe budget padding controversy in the House of Representatives seems to be far from ending soon, as the absence of the judge presiding over a case against the House stalled the sitting of the court.

Judge Idris Koko of the Federal High Court in Kano State had fixed ruling on the suit filed by residents of the Kiru/Bebeji federal constituency for Tuesday, December 20, but he did not show up.

The residents are challenging the authenticity of Speaker Yakubu Dogara the leadership of the House to suspend their representative, Abdulmumin Jibrin, from the National Assembly.

Representative Jibrin was suspended after he publicly accused Speaker Dogara and some other principal officers of the House of manipulating figures in the 2016 budget, an issue that led to his suspension from the House.

He described his suspension for 180 sitting days by the House as ‘completely inconsequential’, noting that the process that led to the decision of the House was a complete waste of time.

 

The lead counsel for Kofa constituency, Bashir Muqaddam, told reporters at the court premises on Tuesday that Justice Koko had gone for the Judges’ Conference holding in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

He noted that after returning from the conference, the judges would proceed for the Christmas and New Year vacations, adding that they are expected to resume on January 19, 2017.

Whistle Blowing Role

While the case had been fixed for January 18, 2017 for mentioning, the lawyer stated some of their requests in the suit.

“Our prayer seeks that the sum of two billion Naira be given to our client, Honourable Abdulmumin Jibrin Kofa, as payment for damages to his reputation.

“When we resume on January 18, 2017, the case will come up for mentioning.

“We want to know whether his whistle blowing role in exposing how the 2016 budget was padded was in contradiction of any stipulated law of the land,” he stated.

Mr Muqaddam said the people of the constituency wanted “an immediate reinstatement of the suspended member and the court to also order for the payment of all his entitlements for the suspension period”.

Jibrin Says His Suspension Is ‘Inconsequential’, Goes To Court

Abdulmumin-Jibrin-Budget-paddingThe former chairman of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriation, Representative Abdulmumin Jibrin, has described his suspension for 180 sitting days by the House as ‘completely inconsequential’.

The lawmaker was suspended on Wednesday for allegedly breaching the practices and precedents of the House of Representatives.

According to the House, Representative Jibrin is also required to tender a formal written apology to the House, before his future resumption of duties.

He is also barred from positions of authority in the House till the end of the 8th assembly.

The House of Representatives has three sitting days in a week and going by that the lawmaker will be away for 60 weeks.

Reacting to the suspension, the lawmaker said the process that led to the decision of the House was a complete waste of time.

“Whatever product comes out of that process, as far as I am concerned, is completely inconsequential and cannot stand anywhere.

“The matter is in court and it is a matter of litigation,” he told Channels Television.

Mr Jibrin said he had asked his lawyer to file a suit against the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, for contempt.

“While I wait for the formal correspondent from the House, I have in anticipation instructed my lawyer, Femi Falana, to charge Speaker Dogara for contempt, because he is aware that the matter is in court and he went ahead to table the matter before the House and referred it to the ethics committee.

“Of course, predictably, this is what they wanted and as far as I am concerned, it is not an issue,” he stressed.

The House had asked him to apologise, but the lawmaker said he would not apologise.

“I can tell you very clearly. I will never, ever, apologise to anybody in the House of Representatives.

“I did not commit any offense, I didn’t do anything wrong. I have said it repeatedly that in the five years that I have spent in the House of Representatives, I have never abused my office. I have never corruptly enriched myself, so I have no reason to apologise to anybody,” the lawmaker from Kano State said.

Allegation Of Budget Padding

Representative Jibrin had accused some principal officers of the House, including the Speaker, Representative Yakubu Dogara, of padding the 2016 budget.

After he made the claim, the lawmaker submitted some documents he claimed were evidences to four Federal Government’s agencies against the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara and 11 others.


The petition was submitted at the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Department of Security Services and the Police headquarters all in Abuja.

Addressing reporters after he submitted his petition at the ICPC, Representative Jibrin said that if the accused could be prosecuted, found guilty and sent to jail, it would send out a powerful signal of President Muhammadu Buhari’s war against corruption.

The allegation took a different turn, with his political party, the ruling All Progressives Congress inviting him for talks with the party’s leadership.

Mr Jibrin, who honoured the invitation, however, noted that the invitation “did not in any way indicate it is a disciplinary committee”.

House-of-Representatives-in-Rowdy-session
The House of Representative became rowdy when the issue was raised after lawmakers returned from recess

The Party had stated that it had made several attempt to reach Mr Jibrin through calls and text messages, but he maintained that “it would have been very difficult for me to attend because of an attempt by the quartet of Speaker Dogara and others, who were determined to kidnap me until few days when my lawyers requested and got maximum protection for me from the DSS and police”.

After that meeting, Representatives Jibrin also met with the Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption over the budget padding saga.

The purpose of the meeting was to brief members of the committee on the details of the allegations he made against the principal officers.

The meeting was held behind closed-doors in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital and lasted for about four hours.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, Mr Jibrin said his allegations were not about settling scores with the Speaker of the House, Honourable Yakubu Dogara.

The issues lingered on from June till lawmakers proceeded on a six-week recess.

Upon return from the recess, the issue was raised on the second day of plenary and a  member of the House told the plenary that “Honourable Jibrin embarked on a campaign of calumny and denigration by making false and scandalous statements and publication in print and electronic media against all members of the House of Representatives collectively”.

The motion on the issue motion on the issue frayed nerves and made the plenary rowdy.

After deliberations, Representative Jibrin was referred to the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges to defend allegation of budget padding he made against Principal officers of the House.

But the lawmaker gave conditions that must be met for him to appear before the committee.

He said he would only obey the decision of the House “if the hearing will be public,” insisting that the deliberation of the issue at the House plenary was flawed.

“I attended the sitting of the House today 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”.

The committee’s sitting was held as scheduled but Mr Jibrin did not attend.

On that day, he asked the Senate to pass a resolution which will empower it to discharge the functions of the National Assembly until the House of Representatives transparently addresses the allegations of budget padding levelled against the leadership and some members of the House.

The lawmaker said that the House had lost the moral ground to discharge its legislative functions as it has failed to address the allegations decisively.

He also made it clear that he would not appear before the House Ethics Committee which is investigating him for breaching the privileges of the House.

After his refusal to appear before the committee, the House decided to suspend him for 60 weeks.

Jibrin Fails To Appear At House Committee Probe

Budget Padding, Abdulmumin JibrinThe former chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, has failed to appear before the House Ethics and Privileges Committee, which is investigating his allegations of budget padding.

This is in line with earlier threats from the embattled lawmaker.

In an interview with Channels Television, Jibrin had vowed not to honour the committee’s invitation if the House Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, failed to step down to allow for a credible probe.

The chairman of the committee, Nicholas Ossai, however, said that Jibrin’s absence is a defense in itself and the committee would complete its work with the evidence it has gathered so far.

Moral Grounds

The lawmaker said that the House has lost the moral ground to discharge its legislative functions as it has failed to address the allegations decisively.

“I have given sufficient reason, I am not going before any ethics committee. I have explained to you, the chairman of the ethics committee himself has made a lot of public statements…that there is nothing like padding and padding is not an offence.

“And he is the person who is going to pass a judgment on me,” he said.

The lawmaker displayed documents which he says backs up the allegations he has made against the Speaker and some members of the House.

He also asked the Senate to pass a resolution empowering it to take over the functions of the House until the allegations are addressed.

 

Dogara Proposes Time Frame For Budgetary Process

budgetary process, Yakubu Dogara, Speaker, Petroleum SectorThe Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, has proposed a review of the Appropriation Act to set a time frame for the nation’s budgetary process.

The Speaker made the call at a gathering where other lawmakers suggested the inputs of the public before passing the nation’s budget.

The 2016 budget is one issue that has continue to generate public debate in the country.

Issues ranging from budgetary processes to passage and implementation continue to attract public interests.

According to the Speaker, there is an urgent need to reform the budgetary process.

Such reforms, according to him, will not only reduce the delay for the passage of the national budget but it will enable lawmakers work on the budget thoroughly before it is passed.

The Governor of Sokoto state, Aminu Tambuwa, who was once Speaker of the House of Reps, was also present at the event, and he emphasized the need for planning.

He proposed a time frame for the President to submit the budget to the National Assembly.

On his part, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, advocated a public debate of appropriation bills before they are passed by the National Assembly.

Nigeria currently runs a budgetary system that allows the government to carry over the implementation of a previous budget six months into a new fiscal year.

Budget Padding: House Ethics Committee Begins Sitting On Jibrin          

Abdulmumuni Jibrin, Budget Padding, House of RepsThe House of Representatives Committee on Ethics and Privileges has commenced investigation into the alleged breach of privileges of the House by former Chairman of the House Committee on Finance, Representative Abdulmumin Jibrin.

The investigation followed a resolution by the House to probe the allegations of padding of the 2016 budget by some of its members.

Making his opening remarks, the chairman of the committee, Ossai Nicholas Ossai, said that the hearing is open to the press.

He then read out some of the allegations against Rep Abdulmumin Jibrin from the motion raised by the Chairman of the House Committee on Rules and Business, Rep Emmanuel Orker-Jev, who appeared before the investigating committee.

Buttressing the allegations one after the other, Rep Orker-Jev, who sponsored the motion, presented evidence of the reported statements where Rep Abdulmunin Jibrin had accused the House of corruption.

He explained that the allegations made had impinged on the image of the National Assembly.

He went on to explain that he took the initiative to move the motion when other colleagues approached him regarding the same matter.

The committee also questioned the lawmaker before adjourning its sitting to Monday, September 26 when Mr Jibrin is expected to appear before it.

The committee has promised to be fair and objective in its investigation and is expected to submit its findings to the House in one week.

Condition For Appearance 

Abdulmumin Jibrin had given a condition that must be met for him to appear before the Ethics Committee to defend allegations of budget padding he made against principal officers of the House.

After the House referred him to the committee for investigation on Wednesday, following deliberations on a motion on the issue, the lawmaker in a statement said he would only obey the decision of the House “if the hearing will be public”.

Members of the House of Representatives unanimously agreed to refer Honourable Jibrin to the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges over what was described as a “campaign of calumny and denigration”.

In his the statement Honourable Jibrin said: “I attended the sitting of the House today 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.”

Jibrin claimed that the move was an abuse of process and explained that “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,” he said.

The lawmaker further stated that the struggle over the alleged budget padding would continue.

Jibrin Gives Conditions To Appear Before Ethics Committee

Abdulmumin Jibrin on budget paddingThe former chairman of the appropriation Committee in the House of Representative, Abdulmumin Jibrin, is giving a condition that must be met for him to appear before the Ethics Committee to defend allegations of budget padding he made against principal officers of the House.

After the House referred Honourable Jibrin to the committee for investigation on Wednesday, following deliberations on a motion on the issue, the lawmaker in a statement said he would only obey the decision of the House “if the hearing will be public”.

Members of the House of Representatives unanimously agreed to refer Honourable Jibrin to the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges over what a lawmaker said was a “campaign of calumny and denigration”.

In his the statement Honourable Jibrin said: “I attended the sitting of the House today 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”.

‘End Of Another Beginning’

Jibrin claimed that the move was an abuse of process and explained that “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,” the statement read.

He claimed that many members of the House, including himself, completely disagreed with the approach, saying it will mean that the Speaker is superintending over his investigation and that clearly makes him a judge in his own case.

The lawmaker stated that the allegations he raised were too grievous to be reduced to a process he described as “open to manipulation and tele guiding”.

“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,” the statement further read.

He pointed out that he was ready to appear before the committee “even today if the proceedings will be public”.

He reiterated that the allegations he had raised were against Speaker Dogara, Deputy Speaker Yusuf Lasun, House Whip Alhassan Doguwa, Minority Leader Leo Ogor and few other members and not the Honourable House as an institution.

He said he had to give the names of the those fingered in the allegation to counter what he said was an attempt by the Speaker to drag other institutions and even individuals outside the House into the matter.

In his words: “The bad news for Nigerians is that in the face of such grievous allegations against the Speaker, which members are aware of, and his decision to sit tight, he has become a lame duck Speaker.

“But even more painful is the fact that we will continue to call though in the short run such fraudulent and corrupt persons in Dogara, Lasun, Doguwa and Ogor number four citizen and principal officers of the House respectively”.

The lawmaker further stated that the struggle over the alleged budget padding would continue.