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Budget padding: Dogara supporters, Jibrin clash over resignation calls

A former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, and supporters of the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, on Tuesday clashed over Jibrin’s call for Dogara to resign.

Jibrin, who addressed journalists after Tuesday’s plenary, reiterated his call for the resignation of the Speaker and three other principal officers of the House, whom he accused of budget fraud.

According to him, the time is ripe for either the Ethics and Privileges Committee or a specially constituted committee of the House to probe the 20 allegations of wrongdoing against the Speaker, including the N40bn “budget padding” allegation.

Jibrin also claimed that the Speaker attended separate meetings of the six zonal caucuses in the House on Monday night.

He alleged that during the meetings, the Speaker “begged” for forgiveness for himself and his “co-accused” persons.

Jibrin said Dogara was “begging members to forgive him and the other principal officers mentioned for whatever offences they may have committed…it was a pitiful sight.”

He added, “We were waiting for him as the leader of the caucus to tell him we no longer want him…and if he doubts it, I challenge him to convene a meeting of the caucus in 24 hours or even one week.”

The former appropriation committee chairman also alleged that he was denied an opportunity to state his case during the meeting.

Jibrin further alleged that the situation became so tense that the Speaker was “literally whisked away by his security details” to avoid the wrath of members present.

However, 13 lawmakers from the North-East and the North-West caucuses addressed a separate press conference, where they debunked Jibrin’s claims.

Abdulrazaq Namdas (APC, Adamawa), who spoke on behalf of the caucus, defended the presence of the Speaker at the meeting in question and said Jibrin had not said anything new since the crisis broke.

He said, “The fact of the matter is that he (Jibrin) has presented his position. He should allow due process to take care of the issues.

“It is a convention that on resumption from the annual recess, the Speaker conveys caucus meeting of the six zonal caucuses through the caucus leaders and preside over it.

“The meeting was not conveyed in a bad light and the Speaker’s presence was to show the unity of the House.

“At the meeting, the Speaker’s remarks centred on how to tackle the economic recession and why the efforts of all are needed.

“Also the claim that the Speaker begged, bribed or blackmailed members was also not true because the issue of cars that he raised predated this crisis.

“That the Speaker was whisked away was also not true because he had to leave before Jibrin spoke.

“Three people were allowed to make comments and after the three had made their comments, the Speaker had to leave because he had other caucuses to attend to as well.

“Even his claim that a vote of no confidence was passed in Alhassan Ado-Doguwa and removed as caucus leader was false because he conveyed the meeting.

On Jibrin’s call on the Speaker to step down, he said, “Let him come to the floor of the House and raise the issue through a motion.

“This is not for the newspapers. It is all about numbers and we would see who would have his way on the issue.”

A member of the North-West caucus of the House, Munir Dan-Agundi, who also faulted Jibrin’s claims, said 21 out of the 24 members of the caucus passed a vote of confidence in the Dogara-led leadership of the House.

Dan-Agundi faulted Jibrin’s claims that Ado-Doguwa had been removed as the leader of the North-West caucus of the House.

Earlier, Dogara, who presided over the day’s plenary before it was adjourned for 24 hours, announced the death of a former and a serving member of the House and called prayers for the repose of their souls and for the members of their families.

Christian and Muslim prayers were said after which the House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, moved the motion for adjournment.

The deceased lawmakers are Adewale Oluwatayo (Ifako/Ijaiye, Lagos), who was a member of the present Eight Assembly and Alex Eze (Nsukka/Igbo-Eze South, Enugu), who was a member of the House from 1999 to 2003.

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