A rights advocacy group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, said anti-graft agencies must investigate the allegation of attempted budget padding levelled against the leadership of the House of Representatives.
The removed Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Abdulmunin Jibrin, had recently alleged that the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, and three other principal officers of the House victimised him for refusing to consent to their plan to pad the 2016 by as much as N40bn.
SERAP, in a statement on Sunday by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, called for a joint investigation by the EFCC and the ICPC into Jibrin’s allegations.
The group called on the Speaker of the House, Dogara, to immediately refer the case to the EFCC and the ICPC, stressing that internal investigation by the House would never be enough in the case.
SERAP said, “Given the seriousness and gravity of the allegations against the leadership of the House, any investigation by the House would not be enough, as this would not meet the threshold of an effective, transparent and independent investigation. Nigerians won’t have confidence in the House investigating itself in this case.
“Referring the allegations to both the EFCC and the ICPC for a joint investigation would show that the House leadership is willing and able to enhance the transparency and accountability of its system and that of the National Assembly as a whole.
“The Speaker must now move swiftly to refer the allegations to the EFCC and the ICPC to allow for a swift, transparent, effective and independent investigation in order to contain the damage that is already done, but also not to create the impression of a cover-up.”
Meanwhile, the quarrel between Dogara and Jibrin got messy on Sunday as the latter made more damaging allegations.
Jibrin also said his N40bn budget padding allegation was made against Dogara and the three other principal officers in their individual capacity and not against the entire House.
The others are the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Yussuff Lasun; the Chief Whip, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; and the Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor.
Jibrin also alleged that 10 standing committees smuggled 2,000 projects worth N284bn into the budget, contrary to the impression created by Dogara that it was him (Jibrin) who introduced the projects.
He noted that the clarification had become necessary because there was a “deliberate” move by the Speaker to drag the entire House into the matter and make it look like Jibrin was fighting all his colleagues.
Jibrin explained that where figures were allocated to other principal officers whom he did not name, they were done by the four without their knowledge.
In a fresh statement he issued on Sunday, Jibrin claimed that unknown to his colleagues, it was the Speaker and the three, who personally inserted some of the distortions in the 2016 budget.
He alleged that on two separate occasions, Dogara and the three others seized the budget from him to an unknown location, where they made insertions and returned the document for his signature. Jibrin said he declined.
The former appropriation chairman explained, “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 three other principal officers took away the entire appropriation committee secretariat to a secret location where all sort of insertions were made into the budget.”