The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, CDHR, has alleged that the leadership of the House of Representatives suspended Abdulmumuni Jibrin as a ploy to sweep his allegations of corruption in the House under the carpet.
Mr. Jibrin, following his removal as Chairman of House Appropriations Committee, had accused the principal officers of the House, including the speaker, Yakubu Dogara, of padding the 2016 national budget and other infractions.
He was however directed by the House to appear before its committee on Rules and Ethics, after a member said his publication of the allegations infringed on the privileges of members.
Mr. Jibrin refused to appear before the committee and was thereafter sanctioned by the House with a 180-day suspension that will keep him away from the chamber for a full legislative year.
Reviewing the development, the CDHR, in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Rasheed Raji-Ropo, on Sunday, said the suspension of Mr. Jibrin was calculated to stop investigation of those he accused of misdeed.
According to the human rights group, failure to investigate the allegations may force it and other civil society organisations to mount pressure on the leadership of the House until the needful was done.
“We have watched with awe the macabre dance and ignominious development unfolding In the National Assembly; the allegations of corruption and counter allegations involving Hon Jibrin Abdulmumini and leadership of the Federal House of Representatives,” the statement said.
“CDHR is deeply concerned with the failure of the House to investigate allegations of ‘budget padding’ raised by Honourable Jibrin, while the motion on abuse of members’ privileges was raised, debated and referred to ethics and privileges committee of the House for investigation, later resulting in the suspension of Jibrin from the green chamber for 180 days and sealing off his office.”
The group said the development was a national embarrassment that has exposed the incompetence of the leadership and members.
“Whereas it is within the rules and powers of the House to regulate its internal affairs and sanction an erring member, the imbroglio surrounding the House of Representatives is a National embarrassment that transcends internal affairs of the hallowed chambers.
”There are fundamental unanswered questions deserving not only investigation by the Parliament, but by also the anti-corruption agencies.
“Honourable Jibrin has admitted to some criminal conspiracies jointly perpetrated against the Nigerian people by both chambers of the National Assembly, under his supervision as the Chairman of House Committee on Appropriation”, the group asserted.
CDHR said the issue was too weighty for the House leadership to dismiss. It called on the Attorney General and police to step into the matter, just as the leadership of the Senate is being prosecuted for alleged forgery of Senate standing rules.
“While recognizing the doctrine of separation of powers, the current government’s anti-corruption fight must be total and holistic. As the leadership of the Senate is being prosecuted by Office of the Attorney General, based on investigation of the Police, Anti-corruption agencies are challenged to step up their game and conclude their investigation (into Mr. Jibrin’s allegations) expeditiously.
“The self-confessed forgery and abuse of public trust are crimes within the investigative and prosecutorial powers of law enforcement agencies.
“This case is akin to an armed robbery suspect walking into a police station and confessing to several bank robbery over the years uncaught, because he was cheated in the last robbery by his gang members.
“It is expected of the Police to arrest the disgruntled member of the robbery gang, investigate all the claims, arrest other members of the gang and prosecute them once there are merits in the claims.
“These latest revelation indicts both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The investigation of abuse of privilege of members and subsequent suspension of Honourable Jibrin by the whole House, across parties line, is an indication of the House resolution to sweep the matter under the carpet.
“This goes to strengthen our earlier calls for an open National Assembly. The budgetary process and execution framework must be open, transparent and accountable to the people.
“With the obvious decision of the House not to (ruffle) the feather in their criminal enterprise, we hereby call on members of civil society to commence the demand for holistic reform in the management of the National Assembly funds.
“We further demand the expeditious conclusion of investigations into the allegations of Honourable Jibrin against the entire National Assembly; both the House and Senate.
“There can be no better time for Nigerians to return to the street and protest against the harsh economy and huge corruption and legislative robbery going on at the National Assembly than now.”