BY EDMOND ODOK, ABUJA – The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio is currently swimming in stormy waters with the House of Representatives dragging him to court over comments made at the ongoing probe of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabimila has already directed the Clerk of the House to engage the services of a legal counsel to file a suit of perjury against the former Governor of Akwa Ibom state.
Speaking on the Minister’s failure to substantiate his claims that about 60 per cent of contracts in the NDDC were awarded to lawmakers, Gbajabimila said Akpabio’s statement intended solely to gaslight the nation from the maladministration and malfeasance in the NDDC
The Speaker, who admitted that “the House has not always lived up to the high expectations of the Nigerian people”, however said; “As much as we still have a lot to do in that regard, I refuse to sit here in good conscience and allow anyone to assassinate the character of the House in an attempt to deflect accountability for their conduct in office.”
Warning that; “Such mendacity as was witnessed at the public hearing will not be tolerated from anybody no matter how highly placed”, the Speaker said; “This morning, I asked the Clerk of the House of Representatives to engage the services of legal counsel, and instruct them to initiate a criminal complaint of perjury against the Minister.”
According to him; “At the same time, we will instruct counsel to explore the possibility of a civil defamation suit against the Minister.”
Speaker Gbajabimila described the House as a public trust placed in the care of lawmakers for the duration of term in office, adding that legislators must therefore prove themselves worthy of this public trust or risk the censure of history.
In expressing the lawmakers’ resolve to resist every attempt to undermine the institution, whether such attempts are from within or from outside, Gbajabimila said the House will justify the confidence reposed on it by the Nigerian people.
He said to meet the highest expectations of Nigerians, the House’s commitment to lawmaking and oversight functions will not fail.
The Speaker recalled that during the investigative hearing on the alleged financial malfeasance amounting to about N40 billion in the NDDC, Senator Akpabio had under oath alleged that 60 per cent of contracts in the commission were awarded to lawmakers.
Also the Speaker noted that on Tuesday July 21, 2020, Akpabio was given a 48 hours ultimatum to publish the names of lawmakers and details of contracts awarded to them, an order the Niger Delta Minister failed to comply with.