Former chairman of House of Representatives Appropriation Committee, Abdulmumin Jibrin, was missing from plenary when the House returned from eight-week recess on Tuesday.
Expectations that the House would move to address the budget padding scandal raised by Mr. Jibrin were left hanging.
Mr. Jibrin, the lawmaker at the centre of the controversy, was in the National Assembly, but confined himself to his office where he spoke to reporters on the crisis enveloping the House.
Mr. Jibrin said the APC Northwest Caucus in the House met on Monday night during which Mr. Dogara allegedly sought forgiveness.
“Taking you through what transpired at the meeting, the Speaker came and everybody was shocked. I too was shocked when I saw him seated there, but we kept quiet to hear what he had to say,” he said.
“And what he did, personally was very shocking to me. The first thing he did was to beg. He started by begging, that we should forgive him for the offences he has committed and other members of the body of principal officers that were accused of budget padding. And he begged for whatever offence that he committed, that we should please forgive him,” he said.
Mr. Jibrin claimed the speaker admitted that he and the other accused members of the body of principal officers took a N40 billion based on tradition.
“Then he went on to the allegation of N40 billion – the only allegation out of the 20 that were raised against him — by saying that it’s a tradition. And immediately he said it’s a tradition, Hon. Aliyu Madaki got up and interjected by saying that Mr. Speaker, if you say it is a tradition, does it make it right that you take such an amount without approval from the House? What sort of tradition is that – that you would take N40billion out of 100 billion meant for the entire members; and you call it tradition?
“So in this instance, it’s fine that he wants to go with tradition. But when it comes to handling the issue of allegations in line with precedence, he would not want to follow the tradition. So after the begging by trying to get members to see reasons with him and all, the message was that everything should be covered.
“So the right thing for anybody to do in a situation like this and by laid down precedence is that if a presiding officer of the House is accused by anybody with evidence, he must step down for at least two weeks for a Speaker pro-tempo who would now set up an independent committee that will investigate it because the Speaker cannot investigate himself.
“And if the committee comes back with its report and there’s nothing against the Speaker, he would go back to his seat. But if he’s indicted, he loses his seat. It was on that basis that we went for the meeting. I would say that we were lured into that meeting. We weren’t expecting to see the Speaker,” Mr. Jibrin disclosed.
Mr. Jibrin also said that the Caucus passed a vote of no confidence on the chief Whip, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, daring him to prove him wrong by calling and presiding over the Caucus meeting.
“And one of the consensus we reached there was that we from the Northwest no longer have confidence in Whip, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, to lead the zonal caucus. All members of the caucus agreed that he should step down as the Whip. So that’s the clear message from the Northwest caucus. And if he doubts it, I give him 24 hours, or even one week to call caucus meeting and preside over it if he can. It’s a challenge,” he added.
Meanwhile, the House leadership through its spokesman, Abdulrazak Namdas, denied Mr. Jibrin’s statement that Mr. Dogara went to the meeting to beg.
Mr. Namdas, who was accompanied by nine members from the northwest zone and four others from Gombe, Bauchi and Nasarawa State, respectively, said: “The Speaker as a matter of convention decided to meet with all the zonal caucuses before the resumption from recess. So that we can discuss the way forward for our country”.
“It is also not true that the members of the Northwest caucus passed a vote no confidence on the chief Whip. In fact, the chief Whip was present at the hallowed chamber today. He was the person who organised the meeting of the Northwest zonal caucus. So he couldn’t have been the leader and yet somebody would come and tell you something else,” he said.
Asked if the lawmakers among whom were members from Gombe, Bauchi, and Nasarawa were there to speak in respect of Mr. Jibrin’s statement, Mr. Namdas said those from Northwest were there to represent the caucus without however clarifying under what guise the rebuttal was being made.
Mr. Namdas said the only truth in Mr. Jibrin’s statement was that he participated in the caucus meeting.
Mr. Dogara presided over the plenary and later adjourned in honour of a lawmaker from Lagos who died in August.