Why I cannot be sued on alleged budget padding, by Dogara
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, has said that he cannot be taken to court over the 2016 budget saga.Dogara, who spoke in Abuja yesterday at the civil society dialogue session to mark one year of the legislative agenda organised by Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), said that he, as well as other members of the National Assembly, were only performing their constitutional responsibility of making laws, including appropriation.
He, however, admitted that the 2016 budget had been controversial from the beginning and that it took dialogue and consensus to produce a workable document.The Speaker, who stated that by virtue of the provisions of the Legislative House Powers and Privileges Act, no member of the parliament can be charged to court or investigated for exercising their powers of law-making, maintained that the Appropriation Bill is just like any other bill that must be subjected to normal legislative processes and scrutiny.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has offered explanation as to why the party would not be able to punish any of its members involved in the alleged 2016 budget padding.
The APC’s Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Lawal Shuaibu, said: “What is padding? The party does not sanction anybody on that. What concerns us is where any member contravenes the party’s constitution in his conduct.
“We are not a law enforcement organisation. We don’t enforce law. We only ensure that the constitution is complied with. Any member of the party is answerable to the party and answerable to its constituency. The two members that are subjected to this are elected or appointed members of the party, including those that are holding public office.”
The Speaker emphasised the need for sensitisation of the public on the role of the Legislature in appropriation process, saying the misconception of this role led to attempts to discredit the 2016 budget.
While commending the role of civil society organisations in educating the public, he stressed: “It is our duty and responsibility to remove any hindrance to progress once we have made the determination that such a situation exists.”