Dogara, Jubrin in war of words over Budget Padding Allegations - EazyFeeds

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Thursday 28 July 2016

Dogara, Jubrin in war of words over Budget Padding Allegations

As controversy continues to trail the 2016 budg­et, with allegations and counter-allegations against the leadership of the House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House, Hon. Yakubu Doga­ra, yesterday threatened legal ac­tion against the former Chairman, House Committee on Appropria­tion, Hon. Abdulmumuni Jubrin.
The Speaker has, however, giv­en Jubrin an ultimatum to tender an unreserved apology to him and retract all allegations made against him within seven days – or face le­gal action.
Dogara’s threat of legal action against Jubrin was contained in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Tu­raki Hassan.

Dogara, in a letter written to Jubrin by his counsel, Professor Joash Ojo Amupitan, noted that the claims of the former Appro­priation Chairman that the speak­er is corrupt and abuses his office, is aimed at tarnishing his image at home and abroad and is a clear case of libel.
The letter read in part, “We act as solicitors to Rt Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of House of Rep­resentatives of Three Arm Zone National Assembly Complex, Abu­ja herein after referred to as our cli­ent and on whose instructions we write this letter to you.
“The attention of our client has been drawn to a libellous press statement you issued on Monday 25th July 2016 which was made available to members of the press (print and electronic media) ti­tled “The corrupt Speaker Yaku­bu Dogara and his 3-man cabal’’.
The letter further said that “the personal references are obviously directed at our client, and amount to a very serious libel.
“By the said publication and without putting to the public any shred of evidence, our client is por­trayed as a criminal, corrupt, dis­honest, fraudulent, dishonourable and unfit to hold the position of Speaker of House of Representa­tives.
“Our client’s reputation has further been brought down in the estimation of right thinking mem­bers of the society and he has been thrown into public opprobrium, odium, scorn and ridicule.
“Consequently, we consider your publication on the matter as

 not only libellous but made in bad faith; an act of vendetta owing to your recent removal as the Chair­man of House Committee on Ap­propriation.
“The said publication is also aimed at causing disaffection be­tween Nigerians and members of the House of Representatives.
In a swift reaction to Dogara’s threat, Jubrin, in his twitter han­dle, said that the Speaker’s threat was quite predictable, adding that Dogara failed to realize that the law is not intended to protect corrupt people.
He said: “I know he will rush to court in order to invoke the House rules, that a matter in court can not be heard on the floor.
“He failed to realize that the law is not intended to protect cor­rupt people. It is such a shame. I have responded to their allegations and rather than respond to mine, he is rushing to court. I stand by my allegations and will not with­draw them!
“I am happy to announce that my lawyers have officially ap­proached the EFCC and the ICPC, towards working out a date for me to personally submit my petition against Speaker Yakubu Doga­ra, Deputy Speaker, Yusuf Lasun, Whip, Alhassan Doguwa and Mi­nority Leader Leo Ogor.
“I believe once a date is agreed with the anti-corruption agencies we would have begun the process of making these characters pay for abusing their office.”
Meanwhile, a new twist was added to the budget crisis rock­ing the House of Representatives yesterday. A group of lawmakers, under the aegis of ‘Transparency Group’, demanded that the Eco­nomic and Financial Crimes Com­mission (EFCC) should investigate the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, Dep­uty Speaker, Yussuf Lasun and oth­er principal officers over allega­tions of padding the 2016 budget.
Addressing newsmen on be­half of the group, Hon. Musa Soba (Kaduna-APC) insisted that Dog­ara, Lasun, the Majority Whip Alhassan Doguwa and Minori­ty Leader, Leo Ogor and the for­mer chairman, House Committee on Appropriations, Abdumumin Jibrin, should be investigated by relevant “external” government agencies.
The group of lawmakers dis­closed that about 113 signatures had been collected from lawmak­ers from the six geopolitical zones and across party lines before the Sallah break with a view to com­pelling the Speaker to explain no­ticed discrepancies in the budget.
Jubrin had, at the weekend, al­leged that Dogara, Lasun, Doguwa and Ogor padded the 2016 budg­et with N284 billion, using 10 of the 96 Standing Committees in the House.
This, the Chairman, House

 Committee on Media, Abdul­razak Namdas, swiftly reacted to and explained that Jubrin had to be removed as chairman because he padded the budget with N250 billion even as he abused his office by regularly blackmailing heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for “pecuni­ary” reasons.
Briefing journalists, Soba said: “We call for an external investiga­tion into the matter with the view to finding out if our principal offic­ers are guilty or not. For this group, we say the budget was padded and as such, the budget being a docu­ment that belongs to all Nigerians, it is no longer an internal affair.”
He said that Namdas was not speaking on behalf members, add­ing that the Speaker should desist from making Jubrin’s allegations look like a problem of the House.
He maintained that hence­forth, both the Speaker, the Dep­uty Speaker and the Whip and the Minority Leader should confront the allegations made against them as individuals.
He said: “We urge the leader­ship of the House of Representa­tives to stop presenting the 2016 budget padding allegations as the problem of the entire House. Let those at the center of the contro­versy answer to all the allegations made against them individually and collectively in line with legal practice and our criminal justice system.”
Also speaking at the briefing, Baballe Bashir (Kano-APC) de­cried the fact that Nigerians have called the House names owning to allegations of corruption, the most recent coming from former President Olusegun Obasanjo. He said lawmakers were concerned about clearing the reputation of the House.
According to him, lawmakers had tried but failed to get a proper explanation from the Speaker long before Jubrin went public with his allegations.
He said: “When we came back from Sallah break, we realised that the Speaker was not ready to give us necessary feedback and we started collecting signature under the heading of Members Against Budget Padding.
“We want everyone involved to be investigated, be it a messen­ger, a typist in the budget office. Be it a member of the Appropriations Committee, such individuals have to be identified for a holistic inves­tigation into this, so that we don’t have the same problem with the 2017 Appropriation”.
The lawmakers at the brief­ing, who identified themselves as the publicity committee of the new group, included: Abubakar Chika (Niger-APC), Baballe Bashir (Ka­no-APC), Bala Ikora (Kaduna-APC) and Lawal Yahaha (Bauchi-APC).

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