THE allegation of 2016 budget padding rocking the House of Representatives took a new dimension on Wednesday, as the Speaker, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, gave a seven-day ultimatum to the former chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Honourable Abdulmumin Jibrin, to tender an unreserved apology to him and retract all allegations made against him or face legal action.
The Speaker, in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Turaki Hassan, noted that the demand for apology and retraction was contained in a letter written and addressed to the former chairman by Professor Joash Ojo Amupitan (SAN) & Co.
According to the statement, the formal letter to Honourable Jibrin was signed by Professor Joash Amupitan, who is the principal partner of the firm.
The letter, entitled: “Request for a retraction and an apology of a libelous press statement issued by you on Monday, July 25, 2016”, noted that the claims of the former appropriations chairman, who was removed for padding the budget and other actions that the Speaker is corrupt and abuses his office is aimed at tarnishing his image at home and abroad and is a clear case of libel.
“The attention of our client has been drawn to a libelous press statement you issued on Monday, July 25, 2016 which was made available to members of the press (print and electronic media) entitled: ‘The corrupt Speaker Yakubu Dogara and his 3-man cabal.’
“The personal references are obviously directed at our client and amount to a very serious libel.
“By the said publication and without putting to the public any shred of evidence, our client is portrayed as a criminal, corrupt, dishonest, fraudulent, dishonourable and unfit to hold the position of Speaker of House of Representatives.
“Our client’s reputation has further been brought down in the estimation of right thinking members of the society and he has been thrown into public opprobrium, odium, scorn and ridicule.
“Consequently, we consider your publication on the matter as not only libelous, but made in bad faith; an act of vendetta owing to your recent removal as the chairman, House Committee on Appropriation.
“The said publication is also aimed at causing disaffection between Nigerians and members of the House of Representatives.
“Sequel to the above, we have to request you to submit immediately to us a clear and unqualified apology and retraction of the publication in an equally conspicuous position in all the print and electronic media where the publication appeared.
“Take notice that in the event of your failure/refusal to comply with the above mentioned demands within seven days of your receipt of this letter, we have further instructions to institute a suit against you in a court of law.
“If we have to pursue this course, we shall be claiming aggravated and exemplary damages,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, constituents of the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Lasun Yusuf, on Wednesday, rose in his defence, describing claims of Jibrin as unfounded and frivolous.
They described his accusation as baseless, contending that it depicted naivety and lacked competence on the part of Jibrin.
Addressing a press conference at an event signaling the kick-off construction works on Osogbo-Ifon-Oyo Boundary Road, which is one of the constituency projects listed in 2016 budget, the Special Adviser on Political Affairs to the Deputy Speaker, Mr Rotimi Badmus, said the allegation of budget padding against the principal officers of the House of Representatives was borne out of mischief.
He maintained that the allegation was a product of a naive mind, stressing that all the projects the lawmaker listed in the 2016 budget were as a result of wide consultations with both Osun State government and the constituents of Osogbo/Olorunda/Ifon/ Irepodun Federal Constituency.
I will not
Honourable Jibrin, on Wednesday, said he would not apologise on the allegations he made against the Speaker, Honourable Dogara and three other principal officers of the House.
Honourable Jibrin, in a series of message on his twitter handle, @ AbdulAbmJ said that “Speaker Dogara has threatened legal action on me. Quite predictable.”
He added that “I know he will rush to court in order to invoke the house rules that matter in court cannot be heard on the floor.
“He failed to realise that the law is not intended to protect corrupt people. It is such a shame.
“I have responded to their allegations rather than respond to mine, he is rushing to court. I stand by my allegations and will not withdraw them.
“I am happy to announce that my lawyers have officially approached the EFCC and the ICPC towards working out a date for me to personally submit my petition against Speaker Dogara, Deputy Speaker Yusuf Lasun, Whip Alhassan Doguwa and Minority Leo Ogor.
“I believe once a date is agreed with the anti-corruption agencies, we would have begun the process of making these characters pay for abusing their office
“I will not and will never apologise to a shameless fraud in high office which has glaringly abused public trust like Speaker Dogara and three others,” he stated.
Budget padding, shame to nation’s
The Pan Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, on Wednesday, described the issue of budget padding by the leadership of the House of Representatives as a shame to the nation’s democracy and an attempt to defraud the masses.
The group, which stated this after its meeting in Akure, the Ondo State capital, noted that the scandal at the lower house over the padding of 2016 budget had rubbished the anti-corruption war and campaign of the Federal Government.
Publicity Secretary of the Yoruba foremost group, Yinka Odumakin, while reading the group’s communiqué, said the revelation over the budget padding had shown that despite the ongoing anti-corruption war, Nigerian leaders still had the courage to perpetrate and engage in corrupt activities.
Afenifere also called on the Federal Government to find a lasting solution to the economic hardship facing the people of the country, noting that hardship had created a terminal crisis, with almost all the states of the nation not able to pay salaries for months.
The group also condemned the incessant attacks on some communities in Lagos and Ogun states, lamenting over the inability of the security operatives in the states to bring the perpetrators to book.
They called on the people in the affected areas not to take laws into their hands, but “encourage them to activate their traditional self-defence mechanism to be able to ward-off these aggressors on their own until the Nigerian state allows state police to complement federal police in handling what is going on at the moment.
“Therefore, we appeal to our people not to be provoked into vengeful acts against their neighbours, who may not know anything about the activities of these criminals.
Afenifere commended the Federal Government over the reopening of political murder cases across the country, saying “we welcome the gesture by the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari to reopen investigation of killings that were not resolved in the past including that of our late deputy leader, Chief Bola Ige and Dikibo.”