From Kemi Yesufu, Abuja
One of the leaders of the Transparency Group in the House of Representatives, Abubakar Chika (Niger-APC) said the group is investigating the allegation that members were handed $25,000 to sign up for a vote of confidence on Speaker Yakubu Dogara.
Former chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Abdulmumin Jibrin had accused lawmakers of collecting the said sum to sign a register in the Speaker’s Asokoro residence.
He alleged that two lawmakers, Jagaba Adams Jagaba (Kaduna -APC), Zakari Mohammed (Kwara-APC) and the Speaker’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Cyril Maduabum were involved in sharing the money.
They all denied the allegation with Maduabum positing in a statement that Jibrin simply accuses those who speak out against him of corruption.
The ousted chairman has consistently alleged that Dogara, Deputy Speaker Yussuff Lasun, Majority Whip Alhassan Doguwa and Minority Leader, Leo Ogor cornered for themselves N40 billion out of the N100 billion allocated for constituency projects in the 2016 budget.
Chika in a phone interview with Daily Sun said: “We are trying to establish facts around the issue of members signing to pass a vote of confidence on the Speaker. We want to find out if it is true that money is involved, though you will agree that someone cannot just make allegations when he doesn’t have any proof.”
The lawmaker went further to describe the collation of signatures as a “crime” against Nigerians, who voted in members of the National Assembly. This is even as he reiterated the call for President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure full investigations into the allegations of budget padding made against the four principal officers.
“I think the collation of signature is the biggest crime we can commit against the people that sent us to this place. When there is any wrong doing by any human being, I think the first thing is to not give him a vote of confidence, not to become your own Lord and Lord of the people that sent you here. Members of the National Assembly do not enjoy immunity and on no ground, I repeat on no ground, are members immune to investigation. The Federal Government can, and I hope it institutes a panel of investigation…it has powers to investigate the wastage and manipulation in the constituency projects and the issue of other phantom projects inserted in the budget by the immediate past administration and in the current budget,” he said.
On why the group is keen on the Speaker stepping aside, despite his telling State House correspondents that budget padding is not a crime, Chika said: “I absolutely agree with Jbirin’s call because any honourable human being that is accused, if he is wrong or right, the moment he knows that certain things went wrong, then he should resign.”