The leadership of the House of Representatives has opened up a can of worms on the padding of 2016 budget and corrupt practices in the parliament. It accused the embattled former chairman of the Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, of initially inflating the 2016 budget by N250 billion and diverting funds meant for lawmakers to the Hadejia-Jama’re River Basin Authority and other ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
A source in the leadership of the House also accused Jibrin of fraudulently allocating N250 million project to favour his wife in the budget.
This is even as the House has resolved to forward to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alleged corrupt deeds of Jibrin for investigation and possible prosecution. Jibrin is also to face the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges to prove his allegations. It was learnt that “Jibrin padded the budget with N250 million for the construction of a market to be sited in Argungu, Kebbi State.” Jibrin’s wife, Adamu Augie, is from Argungu.
It was learnt that Jibrin allocated the amount for the construction of International Tourism Market in his wife’s town, Argungu. The source alleged that the padded project was domiciled at the National Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC).
“This is the highest level of corruption, greed and crass insensitivity for the former chairman to allocate N250 million to his wife at a time members were struggling to get paltry sum of N30 million as their constituency projects.
“He was so mean that he denied us in the committee just N30 million, but had the guts to allocate N250 million to his wife who is not a member of the House.
What has she contributed to have earned such a huge allocation?” a lawmaker charged. Briefing the press yesterday in Abuja, chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Abdulrazaq Namdas, exonerated Speaker Yakubu Dogara and other principal officers of any wrongdoing or complicity in all the allegations of budget padding and sundry corrupt practices levelled against them by Jibrin.
Namdas said apart from the N4.1 billion he whimsically allocated to his constituency in the budget, “Jibrin also inserted N3 billion in the budget for the establishment of film village in his constituency without the knowledge or consent of President Muhammadu Buhari.”
Namdas clarified that Jibrin was relieved of his position for abuse of the budgetary process, lack of credibility, blackmail of colleagues and heads of MDAs, and corrupt antecedents capable of bringing the institution of the parliament to disrepute.
He disclosed that: “The leadership was also in receipt of complaints about his activities as Chair of Finance Committee in the 7th Assembly, which had potential to embarrass the House.
Investigations found that from 2011- 2015, Hon Abdulmumin domiciled with Hadejia- Jama’are River Basin Authority and few other MDAs some of the allocations meant for his former Finance Committee members.
“He was alleged to have aided the use of front companies that collected funds without executing most of the projects. The projects have been compiled and will be referred to the antigraft agencies to establish why the projects were fully paid for and not executed, who collected the funds and why has Hon. Abdulmumin not raised any alarm about the non-execution of the projects even now?”
According to Namdas, “Hon. Abdulmumin had initially inflated the budget by adding about N250 billion more to the total figure as submitted by Mr. President. This, the NASS leadership outrightly rejected as a form of financial recklessness and inability to appreciate the dwindling resources available to government necessitating that we act prudently.”
He alleged that: “Jibrin was in the habit of collating, warehousing and manipulating sensitive information to blackmail people sometimes apparently for pecuniary purposes. And by the virtue of his position as Appropriations Chairman, he meets with very high and senior public officers at all levels. “The Speaker and the leadership were inundated with complaints by heads of MDAs over harassment from the House Appropriations Chairman to engage in conduct and acts unbecoming of their offices .
“The leadership lunched an internal investigation into these allegations and was largely satisfied that action had to be taken to remove him, in the interest of the integrity of the House. “One clear example is the insertion of funds for the so-called Muhammadu Buhari Film Village in his Constituency in Kano State without the consent or solicitation of Mr. President. This has brought both Mr. President and the government to disrepute.”
Expatiating further, Namdas revealed that “One of such is the numerous projects he claimed in a Channels TV interview in April 2016, to have sited in Mr. President’s home town of Daura, Katsina State without Mr. President’s solicitation or knowledge, in a desperate attempt to blackmail Mr. President as an answer and justification for allocation of N4.1 billion to his constituency when confronted by the interviewer.
“He did not stop there. Hon Abdulmumin went about soliciting Honourable members to nominate projects for him to help them include in the budget. When called upon to defend his actions as Appropriation Chairman, all he did was to be calling names of those members and the amount he helped include for them in the budget in an unsuccessful bid to silence them.”
Namdas added that: “It was also discovered that the former Chairman, Appropriation Committee discreetly and clandestinely allocated monies for projects that are not clearly defined in the budget for the purposes of exploiting the ambiguities for personal gains.”
Defending the actions of the speaker in tampering with the budget, Namdas stated that: “The legislature is therefore constitutionally incapable of padding the budget. The removal, introduction of projects or the amendment of Mr. President’s estimates in the Appropriation Bill cannot and should never be construed as an act of corruption or impropriety because it is at the core of appropriation powers of the National Assembly as aptly enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.”
The spokesman challenged Jibrin to “release the signed inputs of Mr. Speaker and not pieces of paper that bears no acknowledged authorship.”
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