President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday met behind closed doors with the embattled Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara.
Dogara is currently in the eye of the storm following allegations by a former Chairman of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, that he (Dogara); the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Yussuff Lasun; the Chief Whip, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa; and the Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, padded the 2016 Budget.
The Speaker was accompanied to the meeting which was held inside the President’s office by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives), Suleiman Kawu.
At the end of the meeting, which lasted less than 30 minutes, Dogara told State House correspondents that he would not resign to pave way for thorough investigation of the allegations as being canvassed by some individuals and groups.
He said with his experience as a lawyer and a federal lawmaker of many years, he has never heard padding as being an offence under the law.
He also ruled out the possibility of reconvening the House before the September scheduled resumption time over the matter, saying the House of Representatives is not a mock institution.
Dogara also claimed he is not worried by the allegations leveled against him.
On whether the House will sanction Jibrin on the matter, the Speaker said he is not the Chairman of the House Ethics Committee.
The following encounter took place between the Speaker and reporters as reported by Punch:
Reporter: What informed your visit to the Presidential Villa this Friday?
Speaker: You mean I can’t come and see my President? Do I need any reason to come and see my President. It was a private visit.
Reporter: Was the issue of alleged budget padding discussed?
Speaker: What is budget padding?
Reporter: The language emanated from your chambers
Speaker: I don’t know, educate me. I am a lawyer and the Speaker and I have never heard of the word “padding.” What does “padding” mean?
Reporter: Your former chairman of Appropriation Committee is saying you padded the budget. What is your reaction to that?
Speaker: Ask him. He who alleges must prove; that is the law in Nigeria.
Reporter: Are you not going to defend yourself?
Speaker: Am I before a court?
Reporter: There are people saying you should reconvene the House before September resumption time and step aside for thorough investigation to be carried out. What is your reaction to this?
Speaker: We have rules and regulations. This is not a mock institution, we operate by rules and we will follow the rules.
Reporter: Will you resign?
Speaker: Resign for what? For what?
Reporter: On this allegation.
Speaker: What is the allegation?
Reporter: That you and some members of the leadership padded the budget.
Speaker: What is padding? You haven’t told me. Ask Jibrin what is padding? For me, 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
Reporter: Are you worried?
Speaker: Worried for what? Worried over nothing? Why should I be worried? As far as I am concerned, I am not worried over anything.
Reporter: Will there be sanctions for Jibrin?
Speaker: I am not the Chairman of Ethics Committee of the House so I wouldn’t know and I don’t know what padding means.