Suspended lawmaker, Abdulmumin Jibrin, on Saturday said the arrest of Speaker Yakubu Dogara and other members of the House of Representatives caught in the budget padding scandal is long overdue.
Mr. Jibrin’s position came in a statement he distributed to mark the 100 days since he went public with claims that the House under Mr. Dogara’s leadership had become a cesspool of corruption.
“To commemorate this day, I urge the honourable members of the House to join millions of Nigerians in the call for the immediate arrest and prosecution of Speaker Dogara, Lasun, Doguwa, Ogor, Hembe and the few other fraudulent and corrupt cabal in the House of Representatives,” Mr. Jibrin said.
Mr. Dogara declined comments on Saturday evening. Other lawmakers also maintained that they no longer respond to Mr. Jibrin’s allegations in the media.
Mr. Jibrin on July 21, came out with a statement detailing scathing allegations of corrupt practices against Mr. Dogara, his deputy, Yusuf Lasun; House Whip, Alhassan Doguwa and Minority Leader, Leo Ogor.
A day before, he had been kicked aside as the chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation.
At a plenary announcement to lawmakers in the afternoon of July 20, Mr. Dogara said Mr. Jibrin was eased out after the House principal officers established evidence of incompetence, corruption and betrayal of trust against him.
Mr. Jibrin flatly denied the allegations in his July 21 statement, saying he was being hounded for his refusal to compromise his independence.
On July 26, Mr. Jibrin published further allegations in the media.
Before the crisis, Mr. Jibrin was amongst Mr. Dogara’s most vocal allies, and he helped engineer his emergence as Speaker.
A few days later, he updated the list of his targets to 13 lawmakers.
By early October, the Kano representative had widened his targets to include “all lawmakers who took illegal allowances.”
On July 30, the State Security Service sealed the secretariat of the Appropriation Committee in the National Assembly after Mr. Jibrin raised the alarm that Mr. Dogara had allegedly concluded plans to cart away computers and destroy evidence.
Mr. Jibrin also visited law enforcement agencies, including the EFCC, the SSS and the police, where he said he personally submitted petitions detailing evidence of fraudulent manipulation of budget by Mr. Dogara, his deputy Yusuf Lasun, House Whip, Alhassan Doguwa, Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, and nine others.
After several days of silence, Mr. Dogara succumbed to public demands for him to defend himself by coming out with blistering statements denying all the charges against him.
Mr. Dogara took specific issue with the ‘budget padding’ catchphrase, saying it was a strange term to use when describing the actions of the legislature.
He also said lawmakers could not be probed by law enforcement agencies over any infractions in the National Assembly.
He later backed down on that position.
Nigerians and civic organisations weighed in on the matter, demanding Mr. Dogara’s resignation from office.
At some point, the APC moved to contain the crisis, but its gag order lasted only a weekend.
Mr. Jibrin’s campaign took a major hit on August 18 when 10 principal officers of the House released a statement siding Mr. Dogara and denouncing the ex-appropriation chair.
Amongst them was Femi Gbajabiamila, the Majority Leader who many thought would be reluctant to openly back Mr. Dogara.
Mr. Gbajabiamila had maintained a neutral position in public since the scandal broke, occasionally issuing mostly vague remarks about it. He later said he was giving Mr. Dogara the benefit of the doubt.
On September 28, a week after they returned from a recess, lawmakers slammed a year suspension on Mr. Jibrin after finding him guilty of ethics violations.
Not even the suspension will silence him, the whistleblower said.
As he observed the 100 days of budget padding revelations, Mr. Jibrin renewed calls for Mr. Dogara’s arrest.
He said the Speaker had allegedly exploited the country’s fault lines to perpetuate himself in office, a situation he said Nigerians should not allow to stand.
“It has become glaring that Speaker Dogara has become a divisive element that has divided the House across religious, ethics and other negative lines,” Mr. Jibrin said.
He said the House must reform itself lest it continued to be a subject of widespread ridicule. That reform should start with a mutiny against Mr. Dogara.
“The House must deal with this issue for once and also embrace reforms that will open up the House and strengthen it to perform its constitutional functions or remain a laughing stock in the eyes of Nigerians,” Mr. Jibrin said.
Mr. Jibrin ended his statement by putting his colleagues on notice that the budget padding scandal will not fizzle out anytime soon — even if it means redoubling the disciplinary action against him.
“Those that suspended me may as well extend the suspension to 2019 as I will never retreat from this anti-corruption crusade of exposing individual and systemic corruption in the House.
“If that turns out to be the case, three years is such a short period of time in Nigeria, except for those playing God like Speaker Dogara,” Mr. Jibrin said.