Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, yesterday, faulted media reports in which he was quoted as saying padding was not a crime. He reiterated his position that no kobo belonging to Nigerians has been misappropriated, stolen or lost in the 2016 budget saga.
In a statement issued yesterday by the office of the Speaker, Dogara maintained that he had been grossly misrepresented on the issue after he met with President Muhammadu Buhari recently at the presidential villa.
He however acknowledged that he told reporters who accosted him after his parley with President Buhari that “padding” was unknown to the lexicon of the legislature and Nigerian law.
The Speaker asserted that nothing undertaken by the legislature in the ordinary course of the budget process could be alluded to, either as padding or an infraction of any law in Nigeria.
The statement noted: “Unfortunately, the media reported him as saying that ‘padding’ was not a crime. This tended to insinuate that the Hon Speaker admitted there was budget padding, but that this did not constitute a crime.
“There could be nothing further from the truth. The Hon Speaker’s assertion was and remains that nothing untoward had been done by the House and indeed the National Assembly with respect to the 2016 budget.
“In the second instance, while responding to questions at the Civil Society Dialogue at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja on Thursday, August 11, Rt. Hon 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 owe 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.”