Wednesday, 18 January 2017

[NG]Budget Padding: Court fixes hearing for February 20

A Federal High Court in Kano on Wednesday fixed February 20 for hearing in the case against the Clerk and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, over the suspension of Abdulmumini Jibrin.
Some constituents of Kiru/Bebeji Federal Constituency sued the Clerk and Speaker Yakubu Dogara, challenging the legality of suspending their member, Mr. Jibrin.
The counsel to the plaintiff, Bashir Muqaddam, had earlier applied for a date to enable him respond to the issues raised in the preliminary objection filed by the defence counsel.
According to him, the defence counsel wanted the consolidation of the two suits – the one filed by the constituency in Kano and the other filed by Mr. Jibrin in Abuja.
The counsel to the defence, Kalu Onuha, said he had no objection to the application for adjournment.
The judge, Sulaiman Akoko, said in the absence of objection to the application for adjournment, the case would come up again for hearing on February 20.
Mr. Muqaddam, the counsel to the plaintiffs, told journalists after the sitting that “when the case resumes on February 20, we are going to argue on the issue of consolidation as raised by the defence counsel.”
Security was tight as hundreds of protesters thronged the court with placards shouting “bring back our member and compensate him.”
Mr. Jibrin was on September 28, 2016, suspended for 180 legislative days.
His suspension followed the adoption of the recommendations of the Nicholas Ossai-led Ethics and Privileges Committee.
The report of the committee was adopted on Wednesday after it was debated on the floor.
Speaker Yakubu Dogara did not preside on the matter because he was one of those alleged by Mr. Jibrin for padding the 2016 budget.
The four recommendations were adopted at the Committee of the Whole House presided over by the Deputy Speaker, Yussuff Lasun.
Mr. Jibrin had alleged that Messrs. Dogara and Lasun, Whip Alhassan Doguwa, Minority leader Leo Ogor and nine committee chairmen illegally inserted fictitious projects into the 2016 Budget.
Mr. Jibrin was accused of bringing the House into disrepute with his utterances and action over the scandal.
The budget had been a subject of controversy with Executive accusing the National Assembly of tinkering with the original document submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Initially, both arms of the Assembly denied the allegation after the president rejected the approved appropriation bill.
He represented the bill to the National Assembly and in the process of cross checking, it was discovered that some items were removed.
The House of Representatives committee was found to have added constituency projects and alter some main projects of the executive.


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