- Kano lawmaker threatens principal officers, demands details of ‘running costs’
- Abdulmumin: I will never apologise
Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The budget padding scandal rocking the House of Representatives took a different dimension yesterday when lawmakers unanimously voted to suspend the former Chairman of the Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Jibrin Abdulmumin, for 180 legislative days.
This translates to a suspension for a period not less than one year, as there are 181 legislative days in one year.
The period of suspension is also in the ‘first instance’ and therefore renewable.
Abdulmumin, before resumption, would be required to tender a formal written apology to the House.
The House also barred the Kano State-born lawmaker from holding any position of responsibility until the end of the eighth assembly.
The decision of the House followed the adoption of the recommendations of the Committee on Ethics and Privileges, which found him guilty of breach of privileges of members of the House and sundry acts of misconduct.
The House last week Wednesday had mandated the committee to investigate the lawmaker for breach of the provision of the Legislative Houses (Powers and Privileges) Act.
The House had removed Abdulmumin as Chairman of Appropriation Committee just before it embarked on its summer recess in July for abuse of the budgetary process.
Employing a scorched earth policy, Abdulmumin had unleashed a tirade of accusations against House Speaker, Yakubu Dogara; Deputy Speaker, Yussuff Sulaimon Lasun; Chief Whip, Alhassan Ado Doguwa; Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, and chairmen of nine standing committees.
He accused them of corruption, fraud and making ‘senseless’ insertions into the 2016 budget.
Moving the motion for Abdulmumin’s investigation upon resumption from recess, the Chairman of the Committee on Rules and Business, Hon. Emmanuel Orker-Jev, said the allegations raised by Abdulmumin bordered on issues of integrity, violations of laws and norms of the budgetary process.
Orker-Jev further accused Abdulmumin of embarking on a calculated campaign of calumny, denigration of the House and publication of false and scandalous statements with libelous, contemptuous and defamatory contents in various media platforms.
Abdulmumin however, refused to appear before the Ethics Committee, accusing the Chairman, Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai, of partiality.
He also described the hearing as contempt of court as he already filed a suit before a Federal High Court, seeking to stop the House from suspending him.
The lawmaker also said his accusations were not against the entire House, but the principal officers.
The report of the Ethics Committee was laid before the House yesterday and considered by the lawmakers as the last business of the day.
The Majority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, moved the motion for the adoption of the four recommendations contained in the report.
Just before the vote was taken, Dogara who had left the chamber returned and sat on the floor, on the front row.
Abdulmumin was absent at plenary all through wednesday.
He had made a brief appearance on Tuesday.
With the Deputy Speaker, Lasun, presiding, there was no single dissenting voice after the lawmakers voted ‘aye’, and broke into applause.
By implication of his suspension, Abdulmumin would not be able to enter the National Assembly in his capacity as a lawmaker.
His salaries and emolluments and those of his aides would also be stopped with immediate effect, while his office in the building would be sealed off.
Early yesterday, the embattled lawmaker had written a letter to all principal officers of the House demanding monetary details of all monies that has accrued to each of them since they joined the House.
This, he said, was in line with his anti-corruption crusade to expose systemic corruption in the House.
The letter which he also sent to the anti-corruption agencies read in part:
However, while reacting to his suspension, Abdulmumin said he would not apologise, adding that the process which led to his suspension was flawed in its entirety.
He disclosed that he had already instructed his lawyer, Femi Falana, to file contempt charges against Dogara and the House.
“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 am going into a massive alliance with civil society groups, NGOs and well meaning Nigerians, 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,” he said.
“I think this is a big issue, I am fighting a group of mafia, I know what they can do. The battle I am fighting is what Nigerians have always wanted to do in the last 16 years when democracy came to bear, to open the House. I am 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,” he added.