John Ameh, Abuja
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, and two other top officials, on Monday, said they had no knowledge of any invitation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over the N40bn budget padding allegations by a former Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin.
The other two are the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Yussuff Lasun; and the Chief Whip, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa.
However, another top official, the Minority Leader of the House, Mr. Leo Ogor, admitted that the EFCC sent an invitation to him.
But he said he turned down the invitation because it did not follow the proper channel of writing him through the leadership of the House.
Ogor also accused the EFCC of conducting “trial by media” by informing the public that it had invited him when the agency was supposed to complete investigation and arraign him if it had any evidence against him.
He said, “The issues they are investigating are non-issues. They are busy conducting trial by media and will later have to apologise to me.
“They sent me an invitation, which I said they should follow the right procedure of reaching me.
“In line with the EFCC Act, they will also have to update me with the economic crime I committed before they started the media trial.
“You can’t rush to the media when you are conducting an investigation that you have no evidence. That is why their cases collapse like a pack of cards in the courts.”
Although, Ogor did not specify the “issues” for which he was invited, findings indicated that he was linked to contracts which some firms associated with him executed.
One senior source, who did not want to be named, stated, “The invitation Ogor received has nothing to do with the House. There are issues about contracts where firms linked with him are involved.
“But if you say budget padding or Jibrin, nobody has that specific invitation. The Speaker doesn’t have; the deputy speaker doesn’t have and the chief whip doesn’t have as well.”
The Chief Whip, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, told The PUNCH that no principal officer had received any invitation from the EFCC in connection with budget padding.
He stated, “I am right now out of the country. In fact, in Saudi Arabia for my Lesser Hajj, but I can confirm to you that up till today, Monday, 19th of June, I have not received any letter of such and my aides working in my constituency office have not either.
“But I will want to add that letter or no letter, it appears the EFCC under its Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, may want to use the anti-graft machinery to unlawfully intimidate or coerce the legislative arm of government.
“We will, however, continue to exercise our constitutional mandate as lawmakers without any fear of the EFCC’s threats. We shall remain focused and will never be distracted in our commitment to serve our constituents and to strengthen parliamentary democracy in our dear country, Nigeria.
“I can tell you that none of us has received any letter from the EFCC regarding budget or Jibrin.
“The anti-graft crusade as envisaged by President Muhammadu Buhari was never meant to serve as an instrument of vendetta or to undermine the rule of law as is the case now.”
The speaker’s media aide, Mr. Turaki Hassan, told The PUNCH that he was not aware that the EFCC was investigating his boss, Dogara.
“I am not aware of what you are saying,” he said.
When contacted, the Chief Press Secretary to the deputy speaker, Mr. Wole Oladimeji, responded that his boss, Mr. Yussuff Lasun, had been out of Abuja since last week and had no information on the EFCC’s probe.
“The deputy speaker is out of Abuja,” Oladimeji said.
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