•Police stop budget padding probe •I don’t know what budget padding is —Dogara •Speaker meets Buhari, says he won’t resign
There are serious indications that certain influential northern elders and All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders have waded into the war of budget padding between House of Representatives, Speaker Yakubu Dogara and Abdulmumni Jibrin.
The move is to checkmate the possible emergence of the next House Speaker from the South West, it was learnt on Friday.
Informed police sources revealed to Saturday Tribune in Abuja on Friday that following the development, the police have been asked to halt further investigations into the matter.
The reliable sources said that an agreement was forced between the two warring parties by the North after leaders from that region discovered that removing the Speaker might create an opportunity for the South-West to clinch the office.
The APC had initially zoned the speakership to the South West but Dogara defied the party defeating Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila who was the official candidate.
It was learnt that the North reasoned that while Jibrin and Dogara fought dirty, the zone might find it difficult to install another person from that region as the Speaker given the present perceived lopsidedness in key government positions in favour of the North.
Following this development, the two warring factions have been directed to sheathe their swords as an amicable solution would be found to resolve the matter,” the source said.
The source disclosed that the APC northern elders have since embarked on series of meetings between Dogara and Jibrin on different platforms, to find out how the matter could be resolved.
Consequently police investigators have halted all invitations sent out to the Speaker and the principal officers of the House.
One of the police sources told Saturday Tribune on Friday: “You can see what is happening in the past 48 hours, and we have discovered that they want to settle the matter politically,” adding that there had been directives to “stand down” the matter.
The APC had on Thursday ordered the embattled former chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Jibrin, to stop further comments on the allegation of budget padding levelled against the Speaker.
The order was given by the APC Deputy National Chairman(North) Senator Lawal Shuaibu, after series of meetings held over the matter with the National Working Committee.
Meanwhile, Dogara has denied knowledge of budget padding, an act he has been accused of by Jibrin.
Speaking after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Friday, he also said he had no reason to resign from his post as being demanded in some quarters.
A reticent Dogara was asked by State House correspondents about his mission in the Villa and the below exchange ensued:
What informed your visit on a Friday?
I can’t come and see my President? Do I need any reason to come and see my President. It’s a private visit.
Was the issue of alleged budget padding discussed?
What is budget padding?
The language emanated from your chambers.
I don’t know, educate me. I am a lawyer and the speaker and I have never heard of the word ‘padding’. What does ‘padding’ mean?
Your former chairman chairman of appropriation is saying you padded the budget.
Ask him. He who alleges must prove. That’s the law in Nigeria
Are you not going to defend yourself?
Am I before a court?
There are people saying you should reconvene the House before the September resumption time and step aside for thorough investigations.
We have rules and regulations. This is not a mock institution. We operate by rules and we will follow the rules
Will you resign?
Resign for what?
Over this allegation.
What is the allegation?
That you and some members of the leadership padded the budget.
What is ‘padding’? You haven’t told me. Ask Jibrin what is padding. For me, I studied law and I have been in the legislature and all this period, I have never heard of the word ‘padding’ being an offence under any law. If I don’t know, you are the media, research the law and let me know.
Are you worried?
Worried for what? Worried over nothing? Why should I be worried? As far as I am concerned, I am not worried over anything.
Will there be sanctions for Jibrin?
I am not the chairman of ethics committee of the House. So, I wouldn’t know and I don’t know what ‘padding’ means.