…Dagora ignores his plea to address house
The embattled chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, yesterday threatened to drag the Committee on Ethics and Privileges to court, if it went ahead to recommend his suspension, Vanguard reports.
Jibrin, who stated this while addressing journalists in his office in Abuja, said his lawyer had suspected that the matter would lead to the House attempting to suspend him, hence he instituted a matter in court, for which he claimed the speaker was duly notified.
He further explained that he decided not to appear before the Ethics and Privilege Committee because he had wanted the assurances of the chairman of the Committee, Ossai Nicholas Ossai, in writing that the investigation was going to be conducted in the public place where the media and civil society organisations would be present.
He said: “Of course you are aware the House deliberated the matter even though we faulted the process but referred the matter to the Committee of Ethics and Privileges.
Now there has been a bite of misconception and I want to clarify the issues.
“Ahead of the resumption of the House I wrote a 17 page letter to all members of the House and one of the issues is that I was finding it difficult to refer or write to the Committee on Ethics because I do not believe that it has the ability of being impartial.
“Of course it is in the public glare, he has made a lot of public statements that shows clearly that he has become an interested party in the matter. I cited the instance where clearly he made public statements that budget fraud also known as padding is not an offence.
“There are instances he mentioned me as a person. Right from the beginning I have my doubt. After the House referred the matter to Ethics Committee, he called me, and I had a conversation with him, I told him that I will appear on the condition the proceedings is made public and I was explicitly clear to him that the media should be there.
“The allegation against me was ambiguous; I told them to make it explicit to me how I have breached privileges of the House or members.
“But again I think the most important thing aside all these issues is the fact that this matter is a subject of litigation and my lawyer has already written Mr. Speaker and reminded the Speaker that during the recess, knowing fully that it might resort to this antics of suspension.
“We have gone to court only on the aspect of suspending me and the Speaker also entered appearance in the case. So the matter is subjudice as lawyers will say. So if any action is taken in this regard, it will only clearly amount to contempt of court.”
Jibrin said he would not abandon the struggle to sanitize the House, even if he was a lone voice. The lawmaker admitted that he refrained from appearing before the committee because he had no confidence in the integrity of members of its members, insisting that many of them had already expressed their support for the speaker on the floor by wearing the “#I Stand with Dogara” muffler.
He said: “Last week some members were wearing mufflers in support of speaker but I will not stop this struggle. I don’t need to lobby people to come, if any member feels that I should come and lobby him to join this struggle, I will not do that.
“What the speaker did during the caucuses was to blackmail members. If they continue to toe that part, I will expose them. “I was shocked when the chairman came on television sending me a warning to appear before him and also gave a second warning on my non appearance is my case. “I am not taking what he said seriously, the house does not belong to the House of Representatives, the House belongs to Nigerians.”
Attempt made to get the reaction of the Chairman of Ethics Committee did not yield any results as he did not pick the calls put across to him in his mobile telephone line. But Ossai had while briefing journalist on Monday said there was no formal communication to the committee on any litigation on the matter in the court. It is expected that the committee will submit its report and recommendations to the House today.
Also close to the matter, a report says the lawmaker was denied the opportunity to address the House executive session, despite his pleas.
Abdulmumin had repeatedly complained that he was not allowed to address his colleagues over the allegation of budget fraud he levied against the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, other principal officers of the House and chairmen of some standing committees of the House.
He also said that Speaker Dogara blackmailed lawmakers to have his way on the matter during plenary last Wednesday.
Abdulmumin added that it was wrong to have referred allegations of budget fraud to the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges.
A ranking member of the House, who confided in LEADERSHIP, explained that Abdulmumin had explored all avenues to address an executive session of the House, but Dogara frustrated the move.
“Yes, he actually tried to persuade the Speaker to have an executive session where he can address the House but the Speaker did not agree. The Speaker told him that he didn’t raise the allegations within the House, he spoke to the press, so he cannot tell the world something and tell us a different thing in an executive session,” he said.
The ranking member, who also chairs a sensitive committee in the House, noted that report of the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges would be considered today (Wednesday) and Abdulmumin is likely to be suspended from the House.
“It is even late for all that, because I can tell you that we are going to consider the committee report tomorrow. It would be different thing if he appeared before the committee and apologise, but he didn’t. It is very likely that he will be suspended tomorrow; in fact, he will be suspended,” he said.