The allegation of 2016 budget padding rocking the House of Representatives took a new dimension on Wednesday, as the Speaker, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, gave a seven-day ultimatum to the former chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Honourable Abdulmumin Jibrin, to tender an unreserved apology to him and retract all allegations made against him or face legal action.
The Speaker, in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Turaki Hassan, noted that the demand for apology and retraction was contained in a letter written and addressed to the former chairman by Professor Joash Ojo Amupitan (SAN) & Co.
According to the statement, the formal letter to Honourable Jibrin was signed by Professor Joash Amupitan, who is the principal partner of the firm.
The letter, entitled: “Request for a retraction and an apology of a libelous press statement issued by you on Monday, July 25, 2016”, noted that the claims of the former appropriations chairman, who was removed for padding the budget and other actions that the Speaker is corrupt and abuses his office is aimed at tarnishing his image at home and abroad and is a clear case of libel.
“The attention of our client has been drawn to a libelous press statement you issued on Monday, July 25, 2016 which was made available to members of the press (print and electronic media) entitled: ‘The corrupt Speaker Yakubu Dogara and his 3-man cabal.’
“The personal references are obviously directed at our client and amount to a very serious libel.
“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 libelous, but made in bad faith; an act of vendetta owing to your recent removal as the chairman, 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.
“If we have to pursue this course, we shall be claiming aggravated and exemplary damages,” the statement read.
Hon Jubril in his reply has vowed not to apologise to the Speaker.