As allegations of budget padding continue to rock the House of Representatives, its Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, has offered himself up for investigation by security and anti-corruption agencies.
A former Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin had alleged that Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Deputy Speaker Yussuf Lasun, Whip Alhassan Doguwa and Minority Leader Leo Ogor, illegally padded the 2016 budget to the tune of about N40b.
Jibrin also accused nine Committee Chairmen of inserting 2,000 fictitious projects worth N284billion into the budget. All the persons accused have denied any wrongdoing.
Rising from a meeting late Thursday, 10 Principal Officers of the House, including the Majority Leader, issued a statement declaring support for the Speaker and accusing the sacked appropriation committee chair of making wild, baseless and unfounded allegations.
Going a step further, Hon. Gbajabiamila, in a statement Friday, noted that though his name was not mentioned by Jibrin of padding the budget since the controversy began, there was a need for him to clear his name.
He also displayed a commendable spirit of sportsmanship by re-affirming the innocence of the entire body of Principal Officers of the House on the budget padding scandal.
It would be recalled that the member representing Surulere 1 Federal Constituency of Lagos State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, contested the Speakership position with Dogara, losing by a very narrow margin.
His statement read: “I returned from the United States just yesterday after a three-week break. I called the Speaker a day before my return to urgently fix a Principal Officers meeting so we could address the several allegations made by Hon Jibrin.
“At the meeting, Speaker Dogara, Deputy Speaker Lasun, Chief Whip, Hon Ado Doguwa and Minority Leader, Hon Leo Ogor passionately and vigorously clearly stated their innocence.
“A prepared text was read and we all agreed to sign. For me as the Leader of the House, I felt it was important to give them the benefit of doubt which in any case is what our constitution says.
“The decision to relieve Hon Jibrin was indeed a collective decision of which I was a part of.
“However, I gave a caveat before the press release was signed, I made it clear to my colleagues in the leadership that because somehow my name had been sullied in all of this and fake documents and publications had been put out there in traditional and social media, which stated I was also involved in the so-called padding of the budget, that I would need to clear my name and that even though no petition was filed against me by Hon Jibrin and no invitation was extended to me by the police, I would be submitting myself on my own volition to the police for investigation.
“This is important to me as insinuations have been made from many quarters that I along with others were sponsoring Hon Jibrin. I have just this afternoon met with the police authorities for a proper and thorough investigation of my role if any in this whole bizarre episode”.