Suspended chairman of the Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, yesterday, made fresh disclosures on alleged corruption in the House of Representatives.
Jibrin explained why members who had earlier supported his anti-corruption push suddenly became quiet, and how representatives allegedly help themselves to billions of naira under the guise of ‘running costs’.
The lawmaker, who confessed, “I took running cost,” said: “Members collect about N10 million every month. In the past, since I came into the National Assembly, till date, there has been a situation where N10 million has been collected. Sometimes it’s between N10 to about N20 million monthly.
“To make matters worse, there is a kind of arrangement, that ensures that the cumulative of that amount is paid to you upfront. That is why you see someone comes into the National Assembly with nothing, but after swearing-in, he is already buying a car of N20 million.
“There is a fraudulent arrangement. For instance, if what you take is N20 million per month, that brings it to about N900 billion in four years. There is an arrangement that ensures you could get even up to half of that money instantly. It is such a mess.”
According to Jibrin, the leadership of the House, at a meeting, had warned members that many heads could roll if the issue of running costs is revealed.He said: “So, he (Speaker) just said it straight. ‘I won’t go down alone. If you allow these issues to be investigated, of course, we have to open up the running cost issue’. From that meeting, people started backtracking. That was why you even had a peaceful session on the first day of sitting after resumption.
“Everybody was ready for a showdown. But that night, he struck. He put the fear of running cost in the hearts of lawmakers because the running cost issue will send hundreds of members to jail directly. You don’t need to investigate it. It’s a fraud. It’s a huge and massive fraud and I have never pretended or avoided saying it.”
But asked if he would still have challenged the Speaker had he not been removed as chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Jibrin answered: “The issue is that my removal was just a trigger. It was just an immediate cause. There had been a remote crisis. I have reported in the media that I protested when I saw 2000 projects worth N284 billion in the budget. I confronted the Speaker on it and I said, ‘I cannot allow this to happen’.
“We fought internally when he wanted me to put projects worth N30 billion in the budget. I said this is ridiculous. It has never happened, and I am not going to do it. There has been lots of issues, and that is why I keep explaining to people that I have fought this battle extensively, internally, and they’ve not come out to say no, because I have given out documents to anti-graft agencies and to the Nigeria Police Force, to show that these are the battles I have been fighting internally before now.”