Inflated budget: Dogara shared $25,000 to get signatures – Abdulmumin Jibrin

FORMER Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, Abdulmumin Jibrin, has accused the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, of handing out $25,000 each to lawmakers for their signatures, in plot towards giving him a vote of confidence.

Jibrin on his Twitter handle, @ AbdulAbmj, alleged that Dogara was using the chairman, House Committee on Basic Education, Zakari Mohammed (Kwara-APC), and his counterpart in the Interior Committee, Jagaba Jagaba (Kaduna-APC), and the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Speaker, C.I.D Maduabum, to distribute the money.

This is as he reiterated his call to the Speaker to reconvene the House and resign.

Jibrin said: “Fellow Nigerians, in a desperate attempt, Speaker Dogara and the three others have opened a register for a vote of confidence signature.

“The register is opened at his Asokoro guest house located at Wilberforce Juta Crescent. Hon. members are given $25,000 to sign. This disgraceful act is coordinated by Hon. Zakari Mohammed, Hon. Jagaba Adams Jagaba and DCOS to Mr. Speaker, Hon. C.I.D Maduabum.”

In his reaction, Zakari, using his Twitter account, denied sharing money to lawmakers on behalf of the Speaker. According him, Jibrin’s attacks were a result of his opposition to him being the chairman of the appropriations committee.

He said: “My attention has been drawn to yet another tweet by the former chairman, appropriation committee, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, saying that I and others were distributing $25,000 to each member of the House, to generate signatures for speaker Dogara’s vote of confidence. I want to state that the accusation is not only untrue but it is also another tale by moonlight to hoodwink Nigerians to malign my image.

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“Fellow countrymen, please, disregard this cheap blackmail aimed at playing to the gallery. I challenge Mr. Jibrin to name, at least, 10 members or less who benefited from the bribe. My advice to Mr. Jibrin is that he should stop the mud slinging of my person and concentrate on licking his self-inflicted wounds.”

Also, another lawmaker, Johnson Agbonayinman (Edo-PDP), who spoke on Jibrin’s allegation, called for end to the controversy, saying he had not heard of lawmakers being offered bribe for any reason.

“Look, I haven’t heard of such a thing happening in the House. I think it’s time for this cheap blackmail to end. Nigerians are suffering and we are here being distracted by rumours and innuendos,” he said.

Meanwhile, pro-Dogara lawmakers have agreed to say less in the media and concentrate more in getting more reps to sign-in for the move to secure an overwhelming vote of confidence.

Their decision to allow the former chairman do most of the talking, according to a close associate of the Speaker, was largely based on the fact that Dogara, on July 27, issued a seven-day ultimatum to Jibrin, demanding a retraction or an apology or be dragged to court.

The ultimatum expired yesterday, with Jibrin sticking with his vow not to apologise or retract his allegations against the Speaker.

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It was learnt yesterday that the Speaker’s supporters had recorded success with collecting signatures, state by state and the collated signatures were being sent through the chairmen of the zonal cau­cuses to the leadership of the House.

A non-governmental organisation, Media Support Centre (MSC), said the crisis in the House underlined the need for Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies and civil society groups to thoroughly investigate the operation of the constituency projects of state and federal legislature.

The group, in a statement by its Executive Director, Wale Fatade, said statements by the key figures in the ‘budget padding’ controversy showed that despite public statements to the contrary, the lawmakers knew that allocation billions of naira to themselves every year for so-called constituency projects is wrong.

Jibrin had submitted documents to anti-corruption agencies, demanding that four leaders of the House of Representatives be investigated, having earlier alleged that the 2016 budget was jacked up by N284 billion, using 10 of the 96 standing committees in the House. He specifically accused Dogara and his deputy, Lasun Yusuf, of appropriating to themselves N40 billion of the N100 billion earmarked for constituency projects by the House in the 2016 budget.

He further alleged that the inflation of the budget was done at a secret location, with the backing of the Speaker and three principal officers, including Lasun; House Whip, Alhassan, Ado Doguwa and Minority Leader, Leo Ogor.

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Jibrin had earlier identified the Interior and Basic Education Commit­tees, as being among the 10 committees that were allegedly used to insert 2, 000 projects.

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