- Yakubu Dogara and some of his principal officers have been at the centre of an alleged budget following revelations by Abdulmumin Jibrin
- Dogara says that he would not resign over the budget padding allegation levelled against
- Lawyers say morality beckons on Dogara to resign and face investigation over the budget padding allegation
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has come under fire for claiming that budget padding is not an offence.
Dogara and some of his principal officers of the House have been at the centre of an alleged budget fraud following revelations by Abdulmumin Jibrin, the former chairman of House of Representatives committee on appropriation.
After a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday, August 5, Dogara said that he would not resign over the budget padding allegation levelled against him and 12 others.
The Speaker also said that budget padding was not an offence under the law.
“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," the speaker told the journalist after the meeting.
However, Dogara’s stand on the budget padding allegations has attracted criticism from some lawyers and concerned individuals who have called the speaker to resign.
According to the Punch, Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), said the alleged padding of budget by some members of the National Assembly constituted a criminal offence.
He said it was logical for those implicated in the scam to step down because Jibrin had done the same.
Similarly, another Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Robert Clarke, said the appropriate thing for the speaker to do is to resign first and face investigation.
He said: “As for Dogara, morality beckons on him to resign and face investigation. When there are allegations of such against a public officer, that’s the appropriate thing to do. But that only happens in civilised societies. Nigeria too is a civilised society, but it’s unfortunate we’ve never seen something like that happening.
“Some of us concerned citizens are pleading with Dogara to step down and face investigation. But if he does not want to do that, we will wait and let the course of events take its turn.”
Reacting to the issue, spokesman of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin described the budget padding as intent to commit an offence.
He said the speaker should shelve impunity by showing some remorse.
He should appreciate the level of angst in the society. If people have not been paid for several months and cannot afford to eat, you can’t be telling them that ‘padding’ with billions of naira is not an offence," Odumakin said.
The ruling party has reportedly banned all its lawmakers from talking to the press on matters about the scandal, starting from Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, who is at the centre of the scandal.
Although it could not be immediately confirmed at press time if APC senators are also under gag, BreakingTimes quoted a source as saying all of APC lawmakers are affected by the ban.