By Sam ADEGBE, Abuja
As EFCC, DSS Step Into Investigation
Speaker Preaches Moral Uprightness in Children
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara has come under intense pressures to step aside and allow for an independent investigation of his roles into the alleged padding of the 2016 budget as alleged by former Chairman of the house Committee Chairman on Appropriation, Jibril Abdulmumini. The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in an open letter sent to the Speaker, the advocacy group demanded of him and other principal officers “suspected to be involved in the alleged budget padding to step aside, pending the outcome of investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other agencies.” Dated 29 July 2016 and signed by SERAP executive Director Adetokunbo Mumuni, SERAP stated that, “Following confirmation received by SERAP from the EFCC that it has taken up and looking into SERAP’s petition to the body on the allegations that the leadership of the House of Representatives padded the 2016 budget to the tune of N481 billion, SERAP is now writing to request you to immediately step aside from your position as Speaker of the House of Representatives pending the out outcome of the investigation.” The letter reads in part: “We also urge you to ensure that other principal officers of the House suspected to be involved in the alleged padding step aside from their positions to allow for the investigation by the EFCC and other agencies to go ahead unhindered. “SERAP has also reviewed several documents circulating on the internet on the alleged budget
padding and we believe that these documents establish a prima- facie case of corruption, which deserves a thorough, transparent, independent and effective investigation by the EFCC and other agencies. “In the circumstances, SERAP calls on you to demonstrate your often-expressed commitment to transparency, accountability, constitutionalism, democratic governance and the rule of law in Nigeria by now stepping aside from your position as Speaker and to ensure that other principal officers suspected to be involved in the budget padding do the same, pending the outcome of the investigation already by the EFCC. “SERAP’s call is entirely consistent with the constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended). As the supreme law of the land, all organs of government including the National Assembly are obliged to perform their functions in accordance with the constitution and other enabling laws. “SERAP agrees with the Constitutional Court of Uganda when it asserted in Constitutional Petition No. 47 of 2011 Twinobusingye Severino vs Attorney General that, ‘In modern democracies, the term ‘stepping aside’ is now generally taken as part of the responsibility of the holder of a public office in discharging his or her duty of being accountable to the people. Thus a culture has developed in modern democracies, Uganda inclusive, whereby a Public officer whose conduct in a public office is being questioned steps aside, on his or her own, to enable investigations to be carried out without his or her influence.’” “Indeed, SERAP believes that the necessity of being accountable to the people, by anyone holding a public office in Nigeria is clearly embedded in the constitution as provided under Chapter 2 titled: Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy. “Specifically, Chapter 2 provides among others that all public offices shall be held in trust for the Nigerian people; that all persons placed in positions of leadership and responsibility shall in their work be answerable to the people; and that all lawful measures shall be taken to expose, combat and eradicate corruption and abuse or misuse of power by those holding political and other public offices. “SERAP believes that the allegations of budget padding by the leadership of the House of Representatives have undermined the status of the National Assembly which is supposed to be the fountain of constitutionalism. The Speaker, as the head of the House, has a big role to play in guiding parliamentarians to embrace transparency by sending a powerful message that allegations of corruption will not be condoned, tolerated or covered up. “SERAP believes that the House of Representatives cannot function effectively nor enjoy public trust and confidence as long as the allegations of budget padding continue to trail its leadership.” “By stepping aside and ensuring that others suspected to be involved in the budget padding also step aside until such a time as the investigations by the EFCC and other agencies are completed, you will be promoting acts that would enhance the integrity and respect for the National Assembly, as well as strict observance of the constitution both in letter and spirit.” Meanwhile, members of the house of Representatives have risen in strong defense of the speaker and others mentioned in
the allegations, stating that the embattled Chairman of the House committee on Appropriation is on a mere vendetta mission, and that if there was any wrong done, he was the culprit. Various members of the House who spoke to nationalTRAIL were of the view that, the reasons behind Abdulmumini’s removal as Committee Chairman had to do with alleged fraudulent deeds, and he lacks the moral right to turn around and accuse others for his own acts. This is even as Yakubu Dogara in a goodwill message he delivered during the dedication of newly born twin daughters of former Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Prof. Suleman Bogoro at the Church of Christ In Nations (COCIN) Centre, Bauchi on Sunday, urged parents to uphold
their responsibility by raising children in Godly way. The Speaker said all human beings were created to live under God’s shadow, hence the necessity of dedicating new born beings to God as was done by the parents., saying, “Everything that has breath, is created to live in certain atmosphere., If you take man or woman outside God’s presence, he will die, It is always a privilege and great gift to be a father or mother”. “He said, “when we have children we should participate in shaping, molding and directing them”, praying God to grant couples who are waiting upon the Lord for the gift of children, their hearts’ desires. Dogara congratulated Bogoro and his wife, Justice Yelhm, on the gift of the twins, about 26 years after they had their first son and prayed God to protect the family.