Embattled former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, Abdulmumin Jibrin, on Friday accused some senior lawmakers in the House of living large by appropriating illegal allowances to themselves at the expense of Nigerian taxpayers.
The lawmakers, who currently serve in different capacities as principal officers of the House, have allegedly shared more than N10 billion amongst themselves as “office running cost,” a subhead legislators have used for years to corner illegal allowances to themselves.
Nigerians have complained about these illegal allowances for years but this is the first time in Nigeria’s history that a serving lawmaker would open up on the sharp practices.
Mr. Jibrin disclosed the details in an email to Premium Times Friday night as part of the unfolding budget padding scandal he triggered more than a month ago.
The 10 principal officers and the funds they have allegedly received so far as running costs included the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, who allegedly got the largest share of N1.5 billion.
Others on the list included Deputy Speaker, Yusuf Lasun, N800 million; Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, N1.2 billion; his deputy, Buba Jibril, N1.2 billion; House Whip, Alhassan Doguwa, N1.2 billion; and his deputy, Pally Iriase, N700 million.
The rest included Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, N1.2 billion; Minority Whip, Yakubu Barde, N700 million; Deputy Minority Whip, Binta Bello, N700 million; and one Chuma he listed as Minority Whip, N700 million.
But contrary to what Mr. Jibrin stated in his statement, Premium Times could not find any lawmaker by the name Chuma with the designation of Minority Whip.
Similarly, Mr. Jibrin listed Mr. Barde as Deputy Minority Leader who has been in the House since 2007. But findings by the newspapers showed that Mr. Barde was first elected in 2003 and he serves as Minority Whip. Our Efforts to get Mr. Jibrin to clarify these ambiguities were unsuccessful as calls to his known telephone number was neither answered nor returned.
Although the latest allegations primarily targeted the familiar names Mr. Jibrin had been waging political and media war against for weeks, it nonetheless, marked the first time the Kano lawmaker would openly accuse Mr. Gbajabiamila of being a beneficiary of fraudulent proceeds.
The inclusion of Mr. Gbajabiamila did not however entirely come as a surprise to observers. He was among the principal officers who jointly signed a statement last week to castigate Mr. Jibrin and threaten him with sanction when the House resumes from its recess in September.
In his statement on Friday, Mr. Jibrin said he listed Mr. Gbajabiamila and other principal officers to show that he was not only waging a war to remove Mr. Dogara from office but also to stop the questionable office running largesse, which he described as the sole unifying force for the 360-member House.
“Most of these members use it to acquire properties, cars and live a life of luxury they never lived before coming to the House,” Mr. Jibrin said.
Mr. Jibrin said he would continue the fight because “It is only when the legislature comes with purity that effective oversight will be carried out and investigative hearing to expose fraud and corruption can be undertaken.”
source: Premium Times