House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara has declared that budget padding is not an offence.
He said he would not resign because of the allegations levelled against him by the sacked Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumini Jibrin.
Dogara, who visited President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday, first feigned ignorance of the term, budget padding. But he later said it constituted no offence under the law.
The Speaker, who has come under pressure in some quarters to resign since the allegations were made, was at the Presidential Villa apparently to explain his own side of the story to President Buhari.
Their meeting lasted about 30 minutes.
As he stepped out of the meeting, State House Correspondents asked him his mission at the Villa:
What informed your visit?
Dogara: Can’t I come and see my President? Do I need any reason to come and see my President? It’s a private visit.
Was the issue of alleged budget padding discussed?
Dogara: What is budget padding?
The language emanated from your chambers
Dogara: I don’t know, educate me. I am a lawyer and speaker and I have never heard of the word padding. What does padding mean?
The former chairman of the Appropriation Committee said you padded the budget
Dogara: Ask him. He who alleges must prove. That’s the law in Nigeria
Are you not going to defend yourself?
Dogara: Am I before a court?
There are people saying you should reconvene the House before the September resumption time and step aside for a thorough investigation
Dogara: We have rules and regulations. This is not a mock institution, we operate by the rules and we will follow the rules.
Will you resign?
Dogara: Resign for what?
Dogara: What are the allegations?
That you and some members of the leadership padded the budget.
Dogara: What is padding? You haven’t told me. Ask Jibrin what is padding. I studied law and I have been in the legislature and all this period I have never heard of the word padding being an offence under any law. If I don’t know, you are the media, research the law and let me know.
Are you worried?
Dogara: Worried for what? Worried over nothing, why should I be worried? As far as I am concerned I’m not worried about anything.
Will there be sanctions for Jibrin?
Dogara: I am not the chairman of the Ethics Committee of the House, so I wouldn’t know and I don’t know what padding means.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) to which Dogara and Jibrin belong has ordered the ex-Appropriation Committee chair to stop speaking on the allegations “as they are embarrassing.”
The party’s Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Lawal Shaibu, in an August 4 letter said Jibrin should desist from issuing further “statements through the social media or other means of transmitting an opinion on the matter to the public, as the party is looking into it towards finding a solution.”