The police are on course to interact with Speaker Yakubu Dogara of the House of Representatives on the alleged padding of the 2016 budget after resumption of the National Assembly from its current recess, The Nation can now reveal.
Also lined up for the proposed interaction are Deputy Speaker Yusuff Lasun, Chief Whip Ado Doguwa, and Minority Leader Leo Ogor, all of whom were indicted by former Chairman, Appropriation Committee of the House, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin.
Saddled with the assignment is the Police Special Investigative Panel which, according to sources, has had a session with House Leader Femi Gbajabiamila.
Gbajabiamila who had been out of the country said on Friday that he was offering himself to the law enforcement agencies for probe over the budget padding allegation.
Although his name has not featured among those listed by the sacked chairman of the House Committee of Appropriation, Abdulmumini Jibrin, who spilled the beans, sources said the police panel had a “comprehensive session with Gbajabiamila on Friday for over one hour.”
The panel has asked the Clerk to the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani Omolori, to submit the draft and final copies of the 2016 Budget to it within one week.
A highly placed source familiar with the development said: “We are going to interrogate the Speaker and the three principal officers implicated in the main petition of the erstwhile Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Abdulmumin Jibrin.
“Once they return from recess, we will ask them to report. Already, a letter of invitation has been served on them. It is still subsisting.
“The initial argument is that the Speaker is the nation’s number four citizen and the modalities of summoning him ought to be different. But we have checked the statute books, neither Dogara nor any of the principal officers has immunity from investigation and prosecution.
“We have not foreclosed investigation into the alleged budget padding. Whoever is talking of any other solution than this ongoing probe might be referring to another platform.”
The source said the commitment attached to the investigation accounts for non-reopening of the office of the Appropriation Committee in the House which was locked following the budget padding allegations and the counter allegations.
“Until we have conducted substantial investigation, the office will still be firmly locked by security agencies. That is a strong room of exhibits,” the source said.
Asked of the extent of investigation, the source added: “We have got sufficient documents for preliminary investigation which is already in progress.
“The Clerk of the National Assembly has up till next week to submit the draft and final copies of the 2016 Budget to the panel.
“All we need now is to interact with the four principal officers immediately they return from recess. If they fail to report, the law has a provision for taking card of such.”
The source confirmed that 10 chairmen of committees in the House will take their turn after the four principal officers.”
On the appearance of House Leader Gbajabiamila before the SIP, the source said: “Although Jibrin did not mention his name in his petition and addendum, he had audience with us on Friday for over one hour.
“It was a comprehensive session which provided more insights into the workings of the House. We hope other leaders in the chamber will emulate him.
“Gbajabiamila came in voluntarily and we took his statement, which is a loaded document on oath.”
Dogara said last week that he was not above the law following the barrage of criticisms that followed his initial statement that no one could probe what he does on the floor of the House as a member and Speaker.
He denied reports that suggested that he could not be investigated or prosecuted over the scandal.
He also said reports credited to him as saying padding was no offence under the law were untrue.
He said his comments on the alleged budget padding were a misrepresentation with and Nigerians now seeing him as insensitive to their feelings.
His Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Turaki Hassan said: “while responding to questions at the Civil Society Dialogue at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja on Thursday 12th August, Dogara made reference to Sections 3, 24 and 30 of the Legislative Houses ( Powers and Privileges ) Act to buttress the point that the legislature while carrying out its constitutional responsibilities is protected by law.
“He did not say or mean that he is above the laws of the land or that he is shielded by the law or has immunity for any infractions of the law.
“This clear restatement of the law has been twisted by sections of the media to mean that neither security agencies nor the courts could investigate or prosecute or try him!
“This is most uncharitable and a deliberate and calculated attempt to pitch the Speaker against the Nigerian public and paint him as lawless.
“As an Officer in the Temple of Justice, Dogara not only owes unalloyed allegiance to the Judiciary but also to the institutions of law enforcement. He indeed swore to an Oath of allegiance to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Dogara should not be portrayed as insensitive or arrogant as this is contrary to his true nature of humility and humaneness that has endeared him to his colleagues and Nigerians.”