Protestations by the sacked chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Rep. Abdulmunin Jibrin that the majority of members were behind him in his claims of budget padding against Speaker Yakubu Dogara were punctured on Wednesday when the House in its first mention of the issue rebuffed him.
LAST Wednesday, the maturity with which experienced lawmakers humbled Rep Abdulmunin Jibrin will linger on for a long time in the minds of Nigerians.
The great dictum of silence is golden came to the fore as maturity which the House leadership showcased while Jibrin dragged them through the mud during the holidays came to the fore as the House for the first time mentioned the issue on Wednesday.
At precisely 11.00 a.m Speaker Yakubu Dogara said the opening prayers and the legislative business of the day started. Close to 80% of the lawmakers that were seated adorned mufflers and boldly inscribed on them was the declaration, ‘With Dogara We Stand.’
That signposted a closed case for Jibrin among the capacity filled gallery.
The speaker at this point saw a sea of hands shouting to be recognised to place an order of urgent national importance but he asked chairman, House Committee on Rules and Business, Rep Orker Jev, APC, Benue to present his motion.
Jev in his motion simply moved that the privileges of members, practices, precedents were breached by Jibrin and that the punishment for the act was suspension for not less than six months. Immediately Jev made this presentation at about 11.28 a.m. loyalists of Jibrin led by Rep Aliyu Madaki representing Dala Federal Constituency of Kano State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, started shouting point of order and this threw the House into confusion.
As they clamoured, all of a sudden, most of the members started chorusing, Dogara, Dogara, Dogara and in the process drowning the voices of the about 25 members who had identified with Jibrin. For about one hour, fifteen minutes, the House was rowdy with sergeant-at-arms, who formed a shield around the Mace to protect it, but this did not deter Jev who went ahead to read his motion which was later passed through a resounding voice vote and referred to the Ossai Nicholas Ossai-led Committee on Ethics and Privileges.
After the momentary confusion calmed down, the Speaker re-read the prayer of the motion that the matter involving Jibrin be referred to the Ethics and Privileges Committee for investigation.
Amid dissenting voices, the question was put and those in favour carried the day, and the Committee was directed to turn in its report in the next one week.
Protesting the resolution, Hon. Aliyu Sani Madaki raised another point of order also on privilege; alleging that the motion as moved by Hon. Oker Jev wasn’t seconded by anybody before he moved it. He further moved that the former chairman, Appropriation also during the break raised grievous allegations against the person of the Speaker, his Deputy, the Whip and the Minority Leader, a matter which affects the privilege of all lawmakers. Hon. Madaki added; “My advice to you is that you should resign for the matter to be investigated.
At this point, Speaker Dogara moved to respond to the point of order by saying; “Even though I couldn’t find anywhere in our rules that enabled you to raise your point of order after a matter had been decided and voted on, let me respond to you this way.” “First, the motion in question was seconded, so no privilege was broken. On the allegation by Hon. Jibrin against me and some principal officers which you-yourself said disturbs your privilege, does that mean that all of us should resign? If we all resign now who would be the Speaker to receive and accept your resignation letters”?
Dogara asked amid another standing ovation which saw members handing pens and papers to Hon. Madaki to write his resignation letter and submit to the Speaker.
Meanwhile, there was a pre-sitting drama involving Hon. Jibrin and Herman Hembe just after Speaker Dogara came into the chamber at about 9 minutes past 11 a.m. on Wednesday. Jibrin who walked in behind the Speaker while he was exchanging pleasantries with members accosted Hembe, one of Dogara’s loyal supporters who was also publicly accused by Jibrin of padding the budget.
As Hembe approached him pointing his fingers at him, Jibrin found himself uncomfortable and retreated. Jibrin later went and sat beside Rep. Zakari Mohammed with whom he hasn’t been on talking terms but whose seat is also close to that of Hon. Hembe and continued the inaudible altercation that could only be discerned through their hand gestures, forcing Hembe to rise from his seat to walk toward another row amidst laughter.
Jibrin had the day before at a press briefing told journalists that his life was in danger from Dogara’s supporters, and he had specifically mentioned Hembe, adding that; “going by his antecedents, he can go to any length to harm me.”
Jibrin subsequently left the chamber in protest of the resolution referring him to the Ethics and Privileges Committee. Jibrin had also declared after he was humbled that he won’t appear before the committee except it is conducted in the glare of the public. His colleague, Rep Golu Timothy said it all when he advised Jibrin to apologise to the House and escape suspension. “I believe knowing the person of the speaker, if Jibrin shows remorse and apologises to the House, I can assure you that members will forgive him. We’re all human beings, but he has to tell Nigerians that all that he said were lies. I advise him to quickly do that.
“The display by most of us today was a natural thing to show our support for Dogara. No single member had any issue with the speaker. What happened was a disappointment to Jibrin. He only had five members behind him.
*Talk about drama!