THE swift suspension of Dr Abdumumini Jibrin, former Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, for 180 working days simply because he alleged that Speaker Yakubu Dogara and four others padded the 2016 budget and committed other acts of corruption, should be of interest to all Nigerians.
I say this because our interest is at stake. I say so because the reputation of the House with its leadership is equally at stake. I say this also because the image of our country is at stake as well as our democracy. I say this because we cannot continue to do things the wrong way always. For once, let us do things the right way, no matter whose ox is gored.
Let us not say that it is between Jibrin and them. The issue for which Jibrin is being persecuted concerns all of us. It is about war against corruption, which the Muhammadu Buhari’s government claims is one of its cardinal programmes. It is not about lawmakers and their usual melodrama.
The matter concerns our welfare and security. It is about how our money is being allocated and spent. We should all take more than a passing interest in the drama playing out at the lower House of the National Assembly. We should not allow the powerful to trample the weak.
Last week, I argued that the whistle blower, Jibrin, should not be persecuted for bringing to the attention of Nigerians the humongous budget padding in the House of Representatives. I also said that Jibrin will not get fair hearing from the Dogara inspired probe by the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges. As expected, Jibrin refused to appear before the committee after his lawyer has filed a suit against the leadership of the House and communicated to Dogara.
As if acting a script from a Nollywood movie, the House of Representatives on Wednesday, just a week after its rowdy session on the same issue, hurriedly suspended Jibrin from the parliament for a whopping 180 legislative days simply because six months including non-working days is not punitive enough. This is coming from our lawmakers indeed.
Take it that Jibrin was technically suspended for one year because the House sits for only 180 days in a year. In addition, he would tender a written apology on resumption from suspension because an oral one will not be enough. When the House of Representatives gave its Ethics and Privileges Committee just a week to investigate the matter against Jibrin, it is known to many Nigerians that Jibrin will not get justice.
It is obvious that he will not get fair hearing. It is also very glaring that one week is inadequate to look into the matter and the sundry allegations against the Speaker and four others by Jibrin. By giving the committee one week, no doubt the committee is likely to work from the answer to the question. It is nothing but the ‘kill him quick’ alternative. It is their peculiar method of silencing the vocal Jibrin for opening his mouth so wide and washing the House’s dirty linen in the public.
For unmasking the House’s big masquerade and its acolytes, he must pay dearly for it. That is why they impose the draconian penalty of one year suspension and added that he should not hold any post in the legislature, just for saying that some highly placed honourable members of the House had hand in the 2016 national budget padding amid other infractions.
That is exactly what the Ethics and Privileges Committee of the House actually did and on Wednesday the Reps’s strong hammer fell right on their target, Jibrin. The haste with which the report of the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges on Jibrin’s allegations against Dogara and four others was adopted showed that Jibrin was penciled down for persecution even when he was not heard.
Therefore, it is not a surprise that the Chairman of the Committee, Nicholas Ossai said that after the investigations, his panel found Jibrin guilty on all counts. This is an indication of pre-mediated action. Expectedly, Jibrin has rejected the decision of the House on him. He reminded the House that the matter is already a subject of litigation.
What happened in the House of Representatives on Wednesday is an abuse of due process. The House cannot act as the accuser, witness, prosecutor and judge on its case. What happens in the House that has criminal tendencies is open to investigation by the Nigeria Police. The House led by Dogara is treading on a dangerous path and should be called to order.
Being elected a member of parliament in the country does not put one above the law otherwise a process of recall should be initiated soon against some them. Nigerians should protest this flagrant abuse of due process and defend Jibrin against the high and mighty in the House of Reps.
What is happening in the House is not in line with the rule of law. A whistle blower should not be penalized for opening up on corruption. As I said last week, the best way to handle the budget padding allegation is to invite the Nigeria police to investigate and prosecute the matter. We cannot accept what the House of Reps has done now on the matter.
What it has done so far is a mockery of justice, due process and the rule of law. We must prove the law is truly the last hope of the common man by how we handle the Jibrin vs Dogara et al matter. We are not an island, other people are watching us.