Members of the House of Representatives, under aegis of Transparency Group, yesterday, told the anti-graft agencies to wade into alleged padding of the 2016 budget by the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara; his deputy, Yusuf Lasun; Chief Whip, Ado Doguwa, and Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, and ensure credible investigation.
The group also claimed that it had collected signatures from about 100 members of the House, cutting across the six geopolitical zones of the country and from different political parties, dissociating themselves from the media briefing by the chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrazak Namdas, saying the allegations had nothing to do with the entire House.
This is as Speaker Dogara gave the embattled former Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Abdulmumin Jibrin, seven days ultimatum to retract the libellous allegations against him or face legal battle.
Dogara, in a letter to Jibrin, through his counsel, Joash Ojo Amupitan, asked Jibrin to retract the alleged libellous allegations against him and some other principal officers of the House and also tender an unreserved apology or be ready to face legal action.
However, Jibrin has dared Dogara to do his worst and declared his readiness to meet him in court. The letter, entitled: Request for a retraction and an apology of a libellous press statement issued by you on Monday 25th July 2016, noted that the claims of the former Appropriations Committee chairman, who was recently removed as chairman, had accused Dogara of corruption and abuse of office.
The speaker claimed that the allegation was aimed at tarnishing his image at home and abroad and was a clear case of libel. He said: “By the said publication and without putting to the public any shred of evidence, our client is portrayed as a criminal, corrupt, dishonest, fraudulent, dishonourable and unfit to hold the position of Speaker of House of Representatives.
“Our client’s reputation has further been brought down in the estimation of right thinking members of the society and he has been thrown into public opprobrium, odium, scorn and ridicule.
“Consequently, we consider your publication on the matter as not only libellous but made in bad faith; an act of vendetta, owing to your recent removal as the chairman of House Committee on Appropriation.
“The said publication is also aimed at causing disaffection between Nigerians and members of the House of Representatives.
“Sequel to the above, we have to request you to submit immediately to us a clear and unqualified apology and retraction of the publication in an equally conspicuous position in all the print and electronic media where the publication appeared.
“Take notice that in the event of your failure/refusal to comply with the above mentioned demands within seven days of your receipt of this letter, we have further instructions to institute a suit against you in a court of law.”