Budget Padding: Jibrin expresses pessimism on fairness of panel

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By; JOSHUA I. EGBODO, Abuja.
Former chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, Hon. Abudulmumin Jibrin has expressed concerns that he may not get fair hearing as he appears before the ethics and privileges committee over his budget padding allegations against the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara and some members of the leadership todaday.
The House of Representatives Committee on Ethics and Privileges commenced the investigation into the alleged misconduct leveled against Jibrin, when principal witness and Chairman of the House Committee on Rules and Business, Hon. Emmanuel Orker-Jev faced the panel.
But Jibrin who is expected to face the Hon. Nicholas Osai-led committee according to its schedules at 12 noon todaday in a letter to chairman of the panel, dated September 23, 2016 said his expectations and demand had been that the incumbent Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara stepped aside for a pro tempore presiding officer to handle the in-house investigation of the allegations he had leveled against the affected members, including the Speaker, and later that the hearing must be open to the public.
“I made it clear to you that it is under such arrangement that I will feel comfortable that the investigation, proceedings and outcome will not be manipulated or compromised. I requested that these assurances be included in the letter of invitation you will send to me. I cited an instance, asking you “what if on a hearing day, the public and press are shut out or are prevented from having access to House knowing the extent of the powers of the Speaker? What will happen?” You promised to get back to me the following day.
“The next day you called, we had the same conversation and concluded that you will put everything in writing. You can imagine my shock and disappointment when I saw your verge letter. Even more shocking was when I discovered the entire hearing is not to probe my allegations but to probe a so called breach of privilege of members and misconduct by me.
“Mr Chairman, your letter clearly indicates that mischief is in the offing. You are inviting an accused to appear before you without telling him his offense. You did not state how I breached the privileges of the House and Members. You did not state the name of which Member’s privileges I breached so that I can take on the Member or Members and see if they can stand corruption test. You did not state the precedents and practices that I breached. You did not state what I did that amounted to misconduct so even if I intend to attend, I can know what exactly I am being accused of and come prepared.
“Mr. Chairman, what further deepens my pessimism is the fact that in your letter, you indicated that you were inviting me to appear before your committee on Monday 26th September, 2016, but surprisingly you announced to the press that I shunned your invitation. This is clear indication that the outcome of your “investigation” is already predetermined”, the lawmaker stated in the letter.
He further expressed dissatisfaction with idea that what was being investigated was not the allegations he put forward, but rather his misconduct that breached the privileges of the House, and its members.
“It is obvious that the Committee on Ethics can not be impartial in dealing with this matter. I urge you and the Members of your Committee not to join this grand plan against the people of Nigeria to use the House as a shield to cover a small cabal which instituted corruption in the House for their benefits. I call on you to fear God and search your conscience(s)”, the lawmaker said while lamenting that he was not specifically furnished with details of the allegations against him.
Testifying Thursday, Orker-Jev however insisted that Jibrin’s action was sundry act of misconduct against the institution of the House, presenting newspapers’ publications of some of the allusions by Jibrin. “We need to redeem our image against allegations that oversight and public hearings conducted in the House of Representatives are riddled with corruption,’’ he satiated among others.

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