Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has disowned the media on his comment that budget padding was not a crime.
The lawmaker, in a statement, said his comment on the issue was overstretched and misreported to mean that he admitted that the House leadership not only padded the budget but also that padding was not a crime.
He also disowned a separate media report which quoted him to have said that no prosecutorial agencies of government could probe or prosecute indicted lawmakers over alleged budget padding, saying doing that would amount to annulling provisions of the 1999 Constitution on the powers of the legislature to appropriate and breach the principles of separation of power.
Dogara, in the statement issued Saturday by his media aide, Turaki said his comment was also misrepresented by the media ad it insinuated that the lawmakers were above the law
Jibrin, the former chairman of the house appropriation committee, had alleged that Dogara and 12 others padded the budget through “unnecessary insertions”, an allegation that the lawmakers denied.
Dogara who was reacting to the two issues which had prompted an informal national debate on the extent of the powers of the executive to probe or prosecute members of the national assembly if they are suspected to have committed crimes accused the media of misconstruing his statements on the crisis rocking the house. .
The statement by Turaki on behalf of Dogara reads in part:“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 12th August, 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.
“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, “ the statement added.