ABUJA—THE House of Representatives, yesterday, suspended ousted Chairman, Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, for 180 legislative days and also barred him from holding any public office within the period. The embattled Kano-born lawmaker is also expected to tender an unreserved letter of apology before he is re-admitted into the House.
But Jibrin, in a swift reaction, said he would never apologise to the House for any alleged wrongdoing, insisting that the suspension would not stand. He expressed optimism that his legal team would floor both the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, and the entire House over alleged contempt of court. However, the committee of the whole, led by the Deputy Speaker, Yussuf Lasun, sat and considered the report of Ossai Nicholas Ossai-led Ethics and Privileges Committee clause by clause and nailed him for one legislative calendar year.
What this translates to is that Jibrin cannot show his face at the National Assembly until after the annual break of the House in September 2017. The Committee had on Monday concluded its assignment, after a prolonged wait on Jibrin who declined to honour the invitation of the committee.
In the report laid by the Chairman, Ethics and Privileges Committee, Ossai Nicholas Ossai, PDP, Delta, before the committee of the whole, Jibrin is also “barred from holding any position of responsibility in the House until the end of the 8th Assembly.” In the recommendations read and put to vote by the presiding chairman and Deputy Speaker, Jibrin is also “required to tender an apology to the House.” Giving synopsis of the report before the House, Ossai recalled that there was a motion raised under matters of urgent public importance by the Chairman, Committee on Rules and Business, Oker Jev, APC, Benue. He said the committee received the referral through the Clerk of the House and commenced its investigation, adding that the committee, in line with its terms of reference, invited Oker Jev for his testimony based on issues raised against Jibrin in his motion. He said: “It is a known fact that Oker Jev attended the hearing and gave evidence on oath in the full glare of the media and civil society. “We invited Jibrin to appear and he confirmed receipt of the letter and I also went out of my way to put a call across to him, asking if he actually received the invitation, which he confirmed, saying that he wanted an open hearing, and I told him we had already adopted that. “But then, he did not attend. Even when he had expressed fears of lack of fair hearing; and I responded in the media that if he comes and proves the contrary that I, the chairman of the committee, had conducted myself in a manner that showed bias, I would immediately step down from the hearing. “So, all the terms of reference were met on the side of the committee and we concluded our work based on the findings made.” Ossai further explained that the committee viewed Jibrin’s statements as injurious, scandalous and sought to bring down the image of the House before the public. “His action amounts to an infraction of section 24 of the Legislative Houses Powers and Privileges Act,” Ossai said. The House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, APC, Lagos, moved for the adoption of the resolution of the motion which was unanimously adopted by the House.
Meanwhile, Jibrin, in a statement dated September 28, gave a 72-hour ultimatum to the quartet of the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Chief Whip and Minority Leader to declare what they earned as running cost and how it was spent or meet him in court. He said: “In the last few weeks, I have raised several allegations of budge fraud, abuse of office, public trust and corruption against Speaker Dogara, Deputy Speaker Yusuf Lasun, Chief Whip Alhassan Doguwa, Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, and a few other members. “None of them responded to the allegations neither has any of them, with the exception of the House Leader, honoured the invitation or submitted and cleared his name before the security and anti-graft agencies. I will follow up on this case until justice is served. “Similarly, and in the spirit of opening up the affairs of the House for the Nigerian people, I released figures of the amount each of you received as running cost. None of you responded despite the gravity of the issue. This is an issue that Nigerians in their millions are calling on us to open up.” I will take it for granted that you have all denied the allegations. “It is in view of the above and enforcing that I demand each of you to provide me and make public within 72 hours what you have received in monetary terms as running cost of your offices in your entire stay in the house of Representatives and details of how you spent it failure of which I will take necessary legal action to compel you to do so,” the 2-page letter read. Reactions of lawmakers Timothy Golu: “Abdulmumin deserves this punishment, he deserves the sanctions because he has been mischievously very stubborn. He has the opportunity to come and show remorse, he has the opportunity to come and apologise. “He obviously knew the wrong that he has committed but he refused, he wanted to show the world that he is a man that can pull the House, bragging that he can even pull down the country, talking anyhow. This is not the characteristics of a good leader. “He is a leader in his own right, but look at the way he has embarrassed himself. He has not just embarrassed himself, he has embarrassed his constituents and every one that believes in him because as leaders, we must have ways of resolving any conflicts, he does not have any issues against anybody. “Or else he would have presented it before the House,meh didn’t do so. So this punishment to me is well deserved, if he refuses to show remorse, it continues again according to the report submitted by the House Committee. “You can see that no single member opposed to this thing and you can also note ho all members suspended all their other committee matters to come and attend to this issue. “It was towards the end of the legislative day, yet all members were in session and no single member opposed it, that tells you that even members of the Transparency Group were not with him, they had their own issues, they were not in support of Jibrin. He abused the opportunity given to him, he has already prepared himself for this trouble. Reacting, Chike Okafor: “You recall that last week, there was a motion brought by Chairman House Committee on Rules and Business, Oker-Jev on matters of privilege which border on allegations levelled not just on the leaders of the House but on the institution by the immediate past Chairman of Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin. “The House considered that motion. One of the prayers sought by the motion under privilege was for the matter to be referred to the Committee on Ethics and Privileges for consideration. What the House simply did today was to unanimously adopt all the prayers by Committee on Ethics on Privileges. “He should have considered his constituency while making the allegations. They will not have representative in the House,mayst is one of the side effects.” In his reaction, Babatunde Kolawole said: “To me the development is a welcome one because he did breach relevant rules of the House and when such thing happened, the House has power to suspend him by going through relevant procedures which of course they did. I don’t think the judiciary has the power to interfere at this point in time. “Though, a letter was written to the House asking us to suspend him, but I think the legislature is an arm of government, what they can only do is just to contest the result of the decision that was taken together in a competent court of law. “So he has been suspended and in an addition to that,you all heard it that he cannot take any position of responsibility as we speak.” Meanwhile, the sacked Chairman of Appropriation Committee, Abdulmumin Jibrin, said yesterday he would never apologise to the House for any alleged wrongdoing. Besides, Jibrin, who was also barred by the House from holding any position of responsibility in the 8th Assembly which will last till 2019, said the suspension would not stand, saying he was optimistic that his legal team would floor both the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara and the entire House over alleged contempt of court. He said the suspension would give him the opportunity to follow the matter he instituted against the speaker and other principal officers. He said: “The most important thing is that Nigerians saw the entire process, how the motion was passed and what transpired at the level of the ethics committee and entirely the process was flawed and for me it’s a non-issue and complete nonsense and it is not going to stand anywhere in the world. “As you are aware, the matter is a subject of litigation, I have instructed my lawyer, Femi Falana SAN to file charges of contempt against Speaker Dogara and of course the house of representatives and I’m sure the matter will move over to the judiciary and decision will be taken. I’m pretty sure it will be in my favour.” On the possibility of him tendering apology to the House for him to be pardoned, he said: “Let me say, I will never, ever apologise to anybody in the house of representatives, I did not commit any offence, I did not abuse my office. I have said it repeatedly that in the five years that I have served in the house of representatives, I have never corruptedly enriched myself. “In contrast, these are the allegations that I raised against Mr speaker and some members of the body of principal officers to which they have not responded to the allegations till date. So there is no reason to apologise to them. They know pretty well that I am not going to apologise to anybody in the house. “But what is very important also is that now they have done their worst, they have suspended me, what has it changed? Has it changed the fact that the speaker conspired with other principal officers to divert N40 billion out of N100 billion meant for constituency projects. “Has it changed the fact that he inserted fraudulent projects worth 20 billion? Has it changed the fact that he diverted multi-million naira project to his personal farm? ‘’Has it changed the fact that he tried to use the running cost – money meant for running the offices of members – for a questionable mortgage? Has it changed the fact that he diverted FGN project to his farm. “Has it changed the fact that he and Alhassan Doguwa hijacked the 2015 MDG projects and everything there in and converted to their personal use? And many other criminal allegations that they committed, it hasn’t changed that. “At this point, I must say they freed me up to concentrate on the matter in court, I know the suspension is not going to stand, secondly, I’m going into a massive alliance with civil society groups, NGOs and well meaning Nigerian to continue to press ahead. “I have said it, not once, not twice that it is not going to be easy. I’m not worried about myself but I am more worried about people around me. “I think this is a big issue, I’m fighting a group of mafia, I know what they can do. The battle I’m fighting is what Nigerians have always wanted to do in the last 16 years when democracy came to bare, to open the house of representatives and I’m determined to ensure that justice is served on speaker Dogara and the corrupt body of principal officers and beyond that, reforms to be implemented so we can have a house Nigeria will be proud of.”