•This should not end the matter; allegations raised by him should be addressed
Amidst the rubble of very weighty allegations made by Abdulmumin Jibrin, a member of the House of Representatives, that our House of Representatives has become a degenerate house of fraud, the members of the house in retaliation, overwhelmingly voted to suspend Mr. Jibrin for a full legislative year. The vote followed the recommendation of the committee on ethics and privileges, headed by Nicholas Ossai, before whom Jibrin refused to appear. By Jibrin’s reckoning, he was not likely to gain a fair hearing from members of the committee, considering the serious allegations of fraud he initially levelled against four principal members of the house.
Starting off, as a fight for turf and gravy among members of the eighth House of Representatives, the allegations by the suspended representative have morphed into a very serious indictment, which deserves a thorough investigation by relevant criminal investigation agencies. We recall that Mr. Jibrin was suspended as the Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, over allegations of sundry malfeasance, in the performance of his duty.
In turn, Jibrin alleged that the speaker of the house, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, and three other principal members conspired to pad the budget, beyond what was approved by the house at plenary. He has since accused virtually all the principal members of receiving several billions of naira in illegal allowances, among other allegations of corruption against the general house. It is such accusations that incurred the wrath of some members, who claimed that their privileges had been abused.
In bonding together to suspend Jibrin, even when he has gone to court to challenge the propriety of the process of in-house trial, perhaps the entire members pre-empted his determination to turn into a whistle blower against the entire house, for alleged criminal conducts. Since his suspension, Jibrin has gone ahead to lay even more grievous allegations of corrupt enrichment, which if can be proved, would amount to conspiracy and the commission of a grand larceny, against our country by the entire members of the House of Representatives.
According to the suspended representative from Kano State, each member of the house receives N10 million monthly in illegal allowances. In fact, Jibrin owned up to having received N650 million in illegal allowances. While we have our reservations about the propriety of a house rule that allows a leadership accused of corruption to sit in judgment over its conduct to suspend a member for one legislative year (thereby denying his constituency any representation while it lasts) to use a plea of a blighted privilege to impugn any answer to allegations of corruption, we are very worried that the relevant anti-corruption and criminal investigation agencies have not waded into the matter.
In our opinion, the allegations by Mr Jibrin deserve to be investigated and if any of the members of the house is found culpable of unlawful enrichment, such a person should be made to account. Guided by the provisions of the Third Schedule, Part 1N, paragraph 32d, of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) is constitutionally empowered to: “determine the remuneration appropriate for political office holders, including … legislators”.
So, unless Jibrin is talking gibberish, any member of the house who received any remuneration in excess of what is constitutionally recommended by RMAFC has not only breached an ordinary law of our country, but has undermined the fundamental law of the country: the constitution. That is why all those accused by Jibrin should be investigated, even as we hope that the law allowing the legislature to unilaterally suspend one of its members who had accused his colleagues of corruption, should also be tested up to the Supreme Court.