Budget padding: EFCC turns allegation around, whistle blower Jibrin in fresh trouble
There were indications on Friday that former Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin, was already seeking cover from possible arrest by the police and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in a fresh twist to his budget ‘padding’ allegations against the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, and three other principal officers of the House of Representatives.
The other three are the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Yussuff Lasun; the Chief Whip, Mr. Alhassan; and the Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor.
Saturday PUNCH investigation showed that contrary to claims by Jibrin that he was invited by the EFCC to shed light on his petitions on budget padding against Dogara and three others, he was actually being grilled by the anti-graft agency over his past financial transactions and several petitions against him.
It was further learnt that the lawmaker might be arrested and charged to court by the anti-graft commission anytime from now.
In 2012, the EFCC was said to have investigated and charged Jibrin to court over money laundering allegations and contract abuses in his Bebeji/Kiru Federal Constituency in Kano State.
There was also a money laundering charge of N15bn against him and a former Governor of Nasarawa State, Mr. Aliyu Akwe-Doma, wherein the two were arraigned by the EFCC.
Another case involved N2bn, which he reportedly laundered in the name of Green Forest Investment Limited, a firm he owned. However, the charges were later abandoned.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that when Jibrin appeared before the police and the EFCC over the budget padding allegations, his money laundering charges were revisited, as he was reportedly asked more questions on his 2012 case.
On leaving the premises of the agencies, Jibrin proceeded to an Abuja Federal High Court to seek injunctions against possible arrest.
He filed two suits, one against the Inspector-General of Police, and the second, against Dogara and 13 other respondents.
In the suit he filed against the IGP, he also joined Dogara; the House of Representatives; the Federal Capital Territory Police Commissioner; Lasun; Ado-Doguwa; Ogor and 10 other lawmakers.
The suit had reference number, FHC/ABJ/CS/539 and was filed on August 9.
A source told Saturday PUNCH that, “Upon receiving signals that he (Jibrin) may soon be charged to court by the EFCC, he rushed to court on Thursday August 9, 2016, seeking injunction restraining the police and other anti-graft agencies from arresting or charging him to court.”
Findings also showed that, while before the public, Jibrin stepped up campaigns for the reconvening of the House so that Dogara and others would be probed, behind the scenes, he filed a second suit seeking to stop his likely suspension, should the House reconvene.
In the said suit number, FHC/ABJ/CS/539, Jibrin prayed the court not to allow a plan by Dogara and 13 other members of the House to “suspend” him.
He claimed that the 14 members met on August 3, following which they agreed to reconvene the House with the plan to suspend him.
But, in the open, Jibrin stepped up campaigns, saying that Dogara and the 13 others were not ready to reconvene the House over the fear of the allegations he levelled against them.
In his sworn affidavit, Jibrin actually expressed concern that Dogara and the 16 others were not stopped, he (Jibrin) “would be suspended as a member of the House and this will greatly prejudice him and thousands of his constituents who rely on him to afford them their due representations in the Federal legislature.”
Saturday PUNCH made efforts to get Jibrin’s reactions but he could not be reached as of 8.30pm on Friday.
He also did not reply to a text message one of our correspondents sent to his mobile phone.
Jibrin had alleged that Dogara and three other principal officers requested the inclusion of N40bn projects in the 2016 budget, besides sundry projects in sums ranging from N20bn to N30bn.
He claimed that his refusal to oblige the four principal officers and his opposition to several financial infractions, were responsible for his sacking by Dogara on July 20.
Jibrin later said he petitioned the EFCC, ICPC, the police and the Department of State Services.
In his reaction to the development, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Robert Clarke, said the appropriate thing any lawmaker facing investigation should do is to resign from his office.
He said, “Any lawmaker, including the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, only enjoys immunity within the Chamber, but does not enjoy such outside of the Chamber. The immunity they enjoy is different from the one governors enjoy.
“Therefore, if any lawmaker has committed an offence outside of the Chamber, they can be grilled by the EFCC and if found guilty, should be charged to court.
“So, there is nothing wrong for the EFCC to investigate Jibrin and Dogara for any financial-related offences committed outside of the Chamber. They should be investigated.”
The Coordinator of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, Mr. Adetokunbo Mumuni, asked Jibrin to resign his seat following the alleged money laundering offence and probe by the EFCC.
He said, “He should face investigation. That is how it should be. Any public office holder under investigation should step down. It is only in Nigeria that public office holders want to cling to their office even when investigated for an offence.
“Let Jibrin resign from the House and face the corruption charges by either the EFCC or the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission.”
Also, the Executive Chairman, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, Mr. Debo Adeniran, said Jibrin deserves to be punished if the allegations against him are found to be true.
He accused Jibrin of using the budget padding allegations against Dogara as a distraction.
He said, “If indeed Jibrin was accused of N17bn fraud, the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission have the rights to investigate the veracity of the allegation and if he is found culpable, then he should be thoroughly punished.
“It is like he wants to cover up the crime he had committed and remain the chairman of the appropriation committee at all cost. The reason why he is orchestrating the padding shenanigan is because he has something to hide.
“If the allegation that Jibrin is involved in N17bn fraud is correct, he should be diligently investigated to establish the authenticity or otherwise of the allegation.”
On the move by Jibrin to stop his planned suspension, Adeniran said, “Jibrin is just wasting his time. I have said it before that Jibrin did not have any good ground to raise any allegation because he raised it at a wrong time. He raised it when the appropriation bill had already become a law. Jibrin is an opportunistic whistle blower who is not supposed to be supported.”