Sexual Misconduct: Reps Clear Colleagues Of Allegations

House-of-Representatives-in-Rowdy-sessionThe House of Representatives has cleared three of its members of allegations of sexual misconduct brought against them by the former United State Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle.

This is one of the recommendations approved by the House after considering the report of a joint committee that investigated the matter.

Two All Progressive Congress (APC) lawmakers, Mohammed Gololo and Mark Gbillah and one Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawmaker, Samuel Okon, were alleged to have solicited for sex and sexually harassed a hotel housekeeper in Cleveland, Ohio.

The joint committee said it found that there was no evidence to back up the allegations levelled against the lawmakers.

The House is also asking that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to write to the United State Embassy, reminding them to always adopt official means of communications in its dealings with any organ or institution of government.

After the US envoy made the allegations against the lawmakers, the House Committee Chairman on Capital Market, Representative Yusuf Tajudeen, asked the U.S. Embassy to up with facts and place them before the House.

He said the House of Representatives was expecting the U.S. Embassy to provide video evidence of the allegations made against some members.

“We want them to place their facts and confront our colleagues” he said via a phone interview on Sunrise Daily.

He also maintained that the House was convinced that the accused were never engaged in solicitation for sex act.

He further noted that “Hon (Mark) Gbillah travelled with his wife and daughter”.

Rep Tajudeen, however, wondered why the accused were not called for questioning during their two-week stay in the United States and why it took the U.S. Embassy over four weeks after their (lawmakers) return to lodge the complaint.

Responding to the request, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria said there was a proof that three members of the House were seen acting inappropriately in the US.

Mr Entwistle said he would present video evidence against them for alleged sexual misconduct.

The U.S. Ambassador in a petition to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, said their actions brought disrepute to the parliament.

The House Committee on Ethics and Privileges, chaired by Ossai Ossai was asked to investigate the matter.

In the course of further investigations into the issue, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, said there was no evidence to confirm the allegations.

The Minister put forward this position when he appeared before the joint House of Representatives Committee investigating allegations of sexual misconduct brought against three members of the House.

The Minister’s presentation is based on an interaction he had with the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, concerning a letter he wrote to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

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.