A senior Nigerian lawyer, Femi Falana, has written to the speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, demanding an immediate discontinuation of the house’s investigation of Abdulmumin Jibrin.
Mr. Falana said the probe was an attempt to suspend Mr. Jibrin, despite an ongoing court case against such move.
Mr. Jibrin, a member of the house from Kano, is accused of misconduct after he accused Mr. Dogara and other leaders of budget fraud.
The house has not investigated the alleged corruption.
Instead, it mandated the Ethics and Privileges Committee to probe claims by some members that Mr. Jibrin damaged their reputation by making public allegations, and not following internal channels.
The committee opened sitting Friday, but Mr. Jibrin is billed to appear on Monday.
Mr. Falana, who is Mr. Jibrin’s lawyer, said in his letter that Mr. Dogara should disband the committee because its constitution contravened the house rules.
Citing order 9 rule 5 of the House, he said Mr. Dogara lacked the powers to constitute a panel over a matter that was before a court.
Mr. Falana said Mr. Jibrin had filed an action before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court with suit No.: FHC/ABJ/CS/50/5/2016 between Mr. Jibrin and the House of Representatives and 13 others.
Mr. Falana said Mr. Dogara was represented in the suit by his lawyer, Ikechukwu Obiora & Co.
He threatened to commence contempt of court proceedings against the speaker if the investigation of Mr. Jibrin continued.
In a separate statement Friday, Mr. Jibrin said he would ensure the Mr. Dogara did not escape the unfolding budget padding scandal unscathed, saying his “day of reckoning is so close”.
“There is nothing you can do on earth to stop it. No amount of lobbying, legislative antics or blackmail of members of the House, Senate, executive arm or individuals outside the House can help you and your cabal of few corrupt members,” Mr. Jibrin said in the statement. “Mr Speaker, this struggle is like the rising sun, it is unstoppable.”
On Friday, the ethics committee, headed by Nicholas Ossai (PDP-Delta), heard testimony from Emmanuel Oker-Jev, a lawmaker who moved the motion for Mr. Jibrin’s censure and suspension on Wednesday.
Mr. Oker-Jev tendered evidence of how Mr. Jibrin allegedly rubbished the integrity of the House through his widespread dissemination of internal House documents against the leadership of the House.
Mr. Jibrin raised questions about the impartiality of the committee in another statement to Mr. Ossai Friday.
“You did not state what I did that amounted to misconduct so (that) even if I intend to attend, I can know what exactly I am being accused of and come prepared,” Mr. Jibrin said. “This is clear indication that the outcome of your “investigation” is already predetermined.”
Mr. Jibrin scolded Mr. Ossai for prioritising disciplinary actions against him rather than address the allegations in his own petition against Mr. Dogara.
The letter by Mr. Falana came after Mr. Jibrin had assured that he would appear before Mr. Ossai’s committee, if its hearing was made public. Friday’s sitting today was witnessed by journalists.
Mr. Ossai told our reporter on Friday afternoon that he was not aware of any letter from Mr. Jibrin’s lawyer.
“I have not seen any letter from them,” Mr. Ossai said. “But even if they write to us, it won’t stop the members of the committee to continue doing the work the House has mandated them to do.”
Mr. Ossai said his committee hopes to see Mr. Jibrin on Monday and reiterated that it would be an open hearing.