Budget padding: Dogara moves for vote of confidence from members

THERE are serious efforts by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, to secure vote of confidence from members of the House over the allegation of budget padding levelled against him and three other members of the body of principal officers.

The caucus meeting, it was learnt, was to secure vote of confidence for the body of principal officers and to settle issues affecting the House, as well to discuss the economic recession facing the country.

This came just as Honourable Jibrin asked the Speaker to step aside and appoint protem Speaker to set up a probe panel to probe the allegation raised against the Speaker and other principal officers.

However, spokesperson of the House, Honourable Abdulrazaq Namdas, said Honourable Jibrin was a serial liar, who should not be trusted.

Honourable Jibrin, while briefing newsmen, disclosed that the Speaker had been meeting with different caucuses of the House to get their support over the allegation he raised.

But Honourable Namdas said the Speaker only met with caucuses of the House in line with the tradition of the House.

According to him, “it is a convention that on resumption from the annual recess, the Speaker convenes caucus meeting of the six zonal caucuses through the caucus leaders and presides over it. The meeting was not convened  in bad light and Speaker’s presence was to show the unity of the House.

“At the meeting, the Speaker’s remarks centred on how to tackle the recession and why all hands must be on deck. Also, the claim that the Speaker begged, bribed or blackmailed  members was also not true, because the issue of cars that he raised predated this crisis,” Honourable Namdas stated.

Honourable Jibrin, while briefing newsmen, said since there was clamour that the allegations he raised  “should be investigated internally” noted that “if this matter must be investigated internally, there is laid down tradition. Even from the Speaker, there was a statement he made at the North-West caucus of the House; he talked heavily on the tradition of the parliament, so a precedence has been set; there is a tradition, when  grievous allegations of corruption has been made against the Speaker and some members of the body of principal officers, nobody is saying Mr Speaker, you are going to be removed instantly, but in the spirit of fairness and justice, the Speaker will step aside for a Speaker protem to emerge.”

He added that “the Speaker protem will set up a committee to investigate or direct the Committee on Ethics and Privileges to carry out the investigation and give them timeline to investigate the matter and return  to the House.

“If the committee brings back its report and no indictment on the Speaker, then he goes back to his office as the Speaker.

“If the committee indicts them, they lose their position and face prosecution. If you say you’ve resolved this matter as family matter internally, keep quiet and you pretend that you want to go and do other legislative businesses, will that change the fact that over 20 grevious allegations of budget fraud and of course, other issues of individual and systemic corruption in the House? He stated.

Reps adjourn sitting over death of colleague

The House of Representatives on Tuesday adjourned till today for continuation of its legislative activities in honour of the death of a serving member of the House, Honourable Elijah Oluwatayo and three other former members.

There were indications that the issue of budget padding and economic recession would be discussed by the House.

A letter from the family of Honourable Oluwatayo as read by the Speaker, Honourable Yakubu Dogara disclosed that he passed on, on July 20 at the age of 66.

Dogara also announced the death of three other former members of the House of Representatives: Honourable Etim Atakpa, Muhammed Useni and Alex Eze.

The Speaker, before asking the Leader of the House to move for adjournment, said that “because a serving member is involved and as the tradition of the House demands we have to adjourn sitting till Wednesday to honour the deceased.”

Muslim and Christian prayers were offered for the departed souls.