Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
Following speculations that the budget-padding allegation in the House of Representatives was part of a plot to impeach and replace Speaker Yakubu Dogara in a manner that would conform with the original arrangement of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, yesterday stated that he was part of the collective decision by the body of principal officers to sack Jibrin Abdulmumini, as Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation.
On the same day, Gbajabiamila met with the police, “for a proper and thorough investigation” of his role, if any in the allegations, even though his name was not mentioned by Abdulmumini in his petitions.
Gbajabiamila was slated to be the Speaker, in the original plan of the party at the birth of the eighth assembly, but Dogara backed by Abdulmumini, rebelled against the wishes of the APC, and emerged Speaker.
The clarification, Gbajabiamila said, became necessary in the light of insinuations that he was fuelling the crises which erupted with the sack of Abdulmumini.
The Majority Leader was part of a meeting of the body of principal officers on Thursday, whose resolution reiterated that Abdulmunini remain sacked for abuse of the budgetary process, following intense pressure from the members of the House.
The statement had been signed by all 10 principal officers.
Gbajabiamila disclosed that he had given a caveat, which included submitting himself to the police, before signing the resolution, which was made public.
“I made it clear to my colleagues in the leadership that because somehow my name had been sullied in all of this and fake documents and publications had been put out there in traditional and social media which stated I was also involved in the so called padding of the budget, that I would need to clear my name and that even though no petition was filed against me by Hon. Jibrin and no invitation was extended to me by the police, I would be submitting myself on my own volition to the police for investigation,” his statement read.
“I have just this afternoon (Friday) met with the police authorities for a proper and thorough investigation of my role if any in this whole bizzare episode,” Gbajabiamila said.
The Majority Leader disclosed that the meeting of the principal officers, had been fixed at his instance, by the Speaker, to address the allegations raised by Abdulmumini.
“I returned from the United States just yesterday after a three week break… At the meeting, Speaker Dogara, Deputy Speaker Lasun, Chief Whip, Hon. Ado Doguwa and Minority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor passionately and vigorously clearly stated their zwas read and we all agreed to sign. For me, as the Leader of the House, I felt it was important to give them the benefit of doubt which in any case is what our constitution says. The decision to relieve Hon. Jibrin was indeed a collective decision of which I was a part of,” he said.
The embattled Abdulmumini however said Gbajabiamila and the other principal officers not mentioned in his allegations of fraud and abuse of office, were coerced to defend the four officers mentioned.
In a statement issued yesterday, he said: “I heard on good authority that contrary to what was brandished in the media as resolution of the meeting, the whole session was an extension of the grand disgraceful plan by Speaker Dogara and the three other Principal Officers to coerce the other members of the body of Principal Officers to come out in their defence since the Speaker and the three others know very well that they are on their way to jail.
“They just want to drag as many people as possible into the matter to use it as a shield or create a situation that in their foolish way of thinking will compel me to implicate the six other Principal Officers or other people both in NASS and the Executive Arm. They are obviously looking for co-travellers. You can see the pattern of systematic blackmail desperately trying to drag in the Executive and the Senate. I am just too strong for them. They need more forces to fight.”
Abdulmumini again alleged that the Speaker is destroying evidence, and so security agencies should be vigilant.
“Let me assure Nigerians that I will continue with this struggle even if I am alone,” he said.
Abdulmumini had accused Dogara, Lasun, Doguwa and Ogor of allocating to themselves N40 billion out of the N100 billion appropriated to the National Assembly, and making senseless insertions into the 2016 budget.”