By Ime Silas
The Honourable Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has stated that the intention of the House to sue the Honourable Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, is to prove the members worthy of public trust.
The Green Chamber’s Speaker, who made this known in a release he personally signed, today, maintained that “…the House of Representatives is a public trust placed in our care for the duration of our term in office”.
Recall that the Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Akpabio, had during the sitting of Reps Panel probing alleged reckless spending in the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, on Monday, alleged that sixty percent (60%) of the Commission’s contracts, were awarded to members of the National Assembly.
The House had given the Minister 48 hours ultimatum to make public the names of the benefiting members of the 60% contract, failure of which they would explore legal means.
Speaking upon the expiration of the ultimatum, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila said in a release captioned “We Are Suing Akpabio” that “Last Tuesday I issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs to substantiate his allegation that over 60% (sixty per cent) of contracts awarded by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) went to members of the National Assembly. I said then that the Honourable Minister owed it to himself and the country to provide evidence to support these serious allegations.
The Honourable Minister has failed to respond to my request.
“Therefore, I must conclude that his statement intended solely to gaslight the nation to avoid accountability for the evident maladministration and malfeasance in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
“In my time in the House of Representatives, I have held every leadership position from Minority Whip, through to Minority Leader, Leader of the House (Majority Leader) and now Speaker. I recognise that the House has not always lived up to the high expectations of the Nigerian people. 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. Such mendacity as was witnessed at the public hearing will not be tolerated from anybody no matter how highly placed”.
While maintaining that the House shall in addition to initiating criminal complaint of perjury, against the Minister, Femi noted that the services of lawyers shall be sought to also seek redress in civil suit of defamation.
He hinted “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. At the same time, we will instruct counsel to explore the possibility of a civil defamation suit against the Minister.
“The House of Representatives is a public trust placed in our care for the duration of our term in office. We must prove ourselves worthy of this public trust or risk the censure of history.
Therefore, we will resist every attempt to undermine this institution, whether such attempts come from within or from outside. This House will live up to the highest expectations of the Nigerian people. This is our commitment, and we will not fail”.