When this bill is passed, Nigeria will join the league of 30 other countries that have legalised the use of cannabis.
The House of Representatives has proposed a bill that will legalise the cultivation, sale and use of cannabis better known as marijuana or Indian hemp in Nigeria.
The bill, which has already been read the first time and was slated for second reading before the House proceeded on Christmas and New Year break is sponsored by Hon. Miriam Onuoha (APC, Imo). Onuoha, who represents Isiala Mbano/ Onuimo/ Okigwe federal constituency of Imo State, is a firsttimer in the lower chamber after defeating her closest rival Obinna Onwubuariri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the rerun election that was held in 18 polling units in the constituency in January this year.
It is titled “A bill for an act to decriminalise the growth and use of cannabis, to establish a system for the registration and licensing of cannabis growers, users and control, to legalise the growth, sale and use of cannabis and set out a legal framework for the registration and licensing of cannabis growers and producers in Nigeria; and for related matters.”
Although the bill was listed on the order paper on December 21, it could not be debated due to the absence of the sponsors on the floor of the House.
Investigation revealed by NoRM‘s known Media that the proposed legislation will be considered when the House reconvene on January 26, 2021
A synopsis of the bill obtained by New Telegraph shows that it is “to regulate the cultivation, possession, availability and trade in cannabis for medical and research purposes.”
The objectives of the bill include to: “Provide for a registration and licensing system for cannabis farmers and processors; establish a registration and licensing system for cannabis farmers and processors; regulate the cultivation, processing, availability and trade of cannabis for medical purposes and promote public awareness about the cultivation, processing, availability and trade of cannabis for medicinal and research purposes and its use in relation to medical or health purpose.”
The bill, however, prohibits issuance of cannabis licence for medical use if such a person is without a proof that “he is either a medical doctor and intends to use it for medical purposes or a pharmaceutical company who intends to use an amount of cannabis, which may be determined as required, in producing a medicine for the cure of a certain disease or an epidemic.”
They include Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech, Denmark and Finland.
Others are Germany, Greece, Israel, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Italy, Poland, Jamaica, Lesotho, Romania and Dan Marino. The rest are Luxemburg, Switzerland, Macedonia, Tury, Malta, Mexico, Uruguay and Zimbabwe.
The lawmaker said that the bill, when passed into law would encourage and prove the benefits of education to the people.
A bill for an Act to establish the Nigeria Army University, Biu, Borno, to make comprehensive provisions for its management and administration has passed second reading in the House of Representatives.
The bill, which originated from the Senate, seeks to give legal backing to the university, which is already in existence, was presented by the Majority Leader, Rep. Ado Doguwa.
Rep. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta (PDP-Abia) argued that the army did not need a university to address the security challenge in the country.
He said that rather than establish new institutions, the Nigerian Defence Academy and the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji should be strengthened.
Rep. Kingsley Chinda (PDP-Rivers) said that should the house pass the bill, Air Force, Navy, Civil Defence and other security agencies will also want to establish universities.
The lawmaker said that the country was already faced with the challenge of insufficient resources saying that establishing new institutions would further stretch the purse.
Supporting the bill, Rep. Ahmed Jaha (APC-Borno) said that Borno has only one federal university which is located in Maidugiri.
He said that in the southern part of the state, there were no fewer than 60,000 orphans and widows as a result of the activities of the Boko Haram terrorist group.
According to the lawmaker, the ideology of the terrorist group is to discredit and abolish western education.
Jaha said that in 2018, the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) approved 1,000 university slots for candidates but over 2,000 applied.
He said that in 2019, JAMB approved 15,000 slots but over 26,000 thousand candidates applied.
Jaha appealed to members to support the bill to enable children in the region to access university education.
Also, Rep. Abdulrazak Namdas (APC-Adamawa) explained that the Nigerian Defence Academy is strictly for soldiers while and the Armed Forces Command and Staff College is for senior officers.
Namdas, who is the Chairman, House Committee on Army, said that Army University is open to both military personnel and civilians.
He said that military officers travelled abroad for further studies and trainings saying that with the establishment of the university such studies and training could be done here in Nigeria.
The legislator said that Nigeria had about 200 million citizens and that it needed more universities to meet the demands for higher education.
When the matter was put to a voice vote by the Speaker of the house, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, members unanimously voted in support of the bill.
In his ruling, Gbajabiamilia referred the bill to relevant committees of the house for further legislative actions.
The House considered a motion moved by members from Borno State on the recent killings of 43 rice farmers by Boko Haram insurgents.
Ayodele Fayose, a former Governor of Ekiti State, has labelled members of the House of Representatives as ‘mere toothless bulldogs’ that only exist on paper in the eyes of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Fayose made the claim while reacting to a resolution by the House of Representatives to invite the President to brief the House on the true state of security in Nigeria.
According to him, he would be surprised if Buhari honours their invitation.
Recall with NoRM that the decision to summon President Buhari was taken at Tuesday’s plenary.
The debate became rowdy after the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, said it would be inappropriate to invite Buhari to disclose the actions being taken towards handling the security situation in the country.
Gbajabiamila described it as counter-productive.
Reacting to the development, Fayose, in a tweet via his Twitter handle on Tuesday, said: “I will be surprised if the President honours the House of Reps invitation.
“The National Assembly that is supposed to be representing the people should know by now that in the eyes of this President, they only exist on paper because they are mere toothless bulldogs.
“Some of those Rep members at the forefront of the invitation of the President to appear before the House should expect EFCC invitation, freezing of their accounts or arrest for plotting to bring down the legitimate government of the President. I warned,” Fayose tweeted.
In his brief welcome address, Mr Lawan expressed the readiness of the parliament to pass the 2021 budget before the end of the year.
“We expect that before the end of the year, the 2020 budget would have been fully implemented,” Mr Lawan says.
He said the passage of the 2020 budget and assent in good time was a clear indication of the smooth working relationship between the executive and legislature.
He added that the implementation of the 2020 budget has shown remarkable improvement compared to previous years.
He also said he hopes the 2021 budget would be targeted at a consolidation of the gains of the 2020 budget, adding that it should also be targeted at creating more jobs.
Nigeria has in the past seven years operated an irregular budget circle.
Promise kept – Gbajabiamila In his closing remarks, Mr Gbajabiamila also thanked his colleagues for making the budget circle of January – December a reality.
“We promised that we would pass the budget promptly, free of the rancour that had bedevilled the process in time past. We delivered on that promise.”
“I thank my colleagues in the National Assembly for the dedication and commitment they showed last year during the appropriation process.”
“Senators and members of the House of Representatives toiled night and day, sometimes through the night and into the wee hours of the morning to ensure that we achieved our commitment to return to the January to December budget cycle as envisaged by the constitution.
“I do not doubt that we will exhibit the same commitment to nation-building and deliver a good budget on time. We cannot afford a return to the old practices, and we must do everything in our power to avoid such an outcome.”
“We also promised to pass a budget that reflected our priorities – healthcare, education, public infrastructure and the development of an economy that is less dependent on fossil fuels and gives to all Nigerians, the ability to achieve their dreams equal to their effort and commitment,” he said.
He said, however, that more needs to be done to assure Nigerian that the National Assembly will continue in this regard.
He also seized the opportunity to announce a new protocol in the National Assembly.
“Let me also use this opportunity to announce a new protocol in the House. Henceforth, all ministries, departments and agencies who come to defend their budget proposals, will do so without their security details present.”
“We must take this course of action to prevent the unacceptable proliferation of sidearms in the hearing rooms during such engagements.”
“Additionally, the House intends to adhere to the COVID-19 social distancing protocols, and we need to be able to limit the numbers of people in these hearing rooms at any point in time,” he said.
The House of Representatives has waded into the crisis between the Federal Government and the organised labour over the recent hikes in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) and electricity tariff.
The Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress had jointly declared their readiness to embark on a nationwide strike and protests to compel the Federal Government to reverse the hikes. The hikes had generated nationwide criticism.
The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Sunday met with President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba; and his TUC counterpart, Quadri Olaleye, among others.
Both Wabba and Gbajabiamila decried that the negotiations between the government and the workers to prevent the imminent strike had failed.
“We, in the House of Representatives, are on the same page with you,” the Speaker told the labour leaders.
Gbajabiamila, however, warned against the dire consequences of shutting down the government at this time, urging the workers to suspend the planned action.
Olaleye hailed the Speaker for always intervening in labour matters.
A heated argument ensued on Monday between the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Treaties, Agreements and Protocols, Nicholas Ossai.
The committee is investigating the $500billion loan agreement between Nigeria and China for the Federal Government’s rail projects.
While the public hearing was ongoing, Amaechi said Nigeria was very unlikely to get the remaining loans from China because of the investigations being carried out by the House.
He accused the Committee of pursuing a political agenda, alleging that Ossai had approached him on the South-South Rail Project.
Following the increasing rise in Amaechi’s tone, the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, stormed the venue of the hearing and called for a 30-minute break.
The minister was later discharged and asked to reappear before the lawmakers on Tuesday at 12 noon.
This is the second time the Minister would be summoned before the Committee over the foreign loan meant for railway projects.
On July 29, he appealed to the National Assembly to halt its probe of the 500 million dollars loan from the Chinese government.
Amaechi warned that the loan which is meant for the completion of the Federal Government’s rail projects may be truncated by the Chinese government if it suspects that there is a disagreement between the executive and the legislature.
He also argued that constant probing or investigation may suggest that an arm of the government does not agree with the loan and may cause the Chinese government to withdraw it.
Amaechi noted that while the lawmakers have the powers to conduct such a probe, he begged them to do so after Nigeria has obtained the loan to prevent the proposed projects from suffering a setback.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has appeared before the House of Representatives Public Hearing on Treaties and Protocols.
Speaking during the hearing in Abuja on Monday, Amaechi disagreed with the committee, saying he is unaware of a N33 billion contract by the Ministry of Transport but only a $1.6 billion contract.
He said the action of the committee is political.
The minister who appeared before the committee for a second time maintained his position that Nigeria is now very unlikely to get the remaining loans from China due to the investigations being carried out by the House.
According to him, the committee probe suggested that the different arms of government do no support the loan.
The committee is also interested in the number of Nigerians and Chinese involved in the Federal Government rail project.
Amaechi’s comments come three weeks after he begged the lawmakers to halt its probe of the 500 million dollars loan from the Chinese government.
He warned that the loan which is meant for the completion of the Federal Government’s rail projects may be truncated by the Chinese government if it suspects that there is a disagreement between the executive and the legislature.
While noting the lawmakers have the powers to conduct such a probe, he appealed to them to do so after Nigeria has obtained the loan to prevent the proposed projects from suffering a setback.
“The investigation being carried out by the National Assembly may frustrate the loan agreement between us and China on the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri rail project.
“We have the approval to construct the Lagos-Ibadan, Lagos-Kano and Lagos-Calabar rail lines; we are also at the point of negotiating for the loans.”
“Summoning us to the National Assembly to come and address the loans would look like the government is no longer interested in the loan,” the minister said.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila says Nigeria needs to impose “deep cuts” in the cost of governance in the country.
Gbajabiamila said this on Thursday at the beginning of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) revenue considerations with revenue-generating agencies.
It was organized by the House of Representatives Committee on Finance.
According to him, with the country facing a fiscal crisis coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a need to reduce the cost of governance to free up revenue for infrastructure development.
“We have a responsibility to act with urgent determination to build the infrastructure of opportunity that is required to lift millions of our fellow citizens out of poverty,” the lawmaker said.
“We recognise that we cannot accomplish these objectives using loans and outside financing alone.
“Therefore, we need to impose deep cuts in the cost of governance and improve internal revenue generation and collection so that we can free up resources that can then be deployed to fund policy initiatives that will enhance the lives of our people.”
While restating that revenue-generating agencies have a role to place in helping the country increase its revenue base, he lamented that there is a “consistent failure to adhere to the revenue remittance agreements to which many of these agencies have committed.”
The Speaker added: “We have credible reports that these desperately needed funds have in many cases, been diverted to finance unnecessary trivialities. At the same time, the Government is left scrambling for alternative sources to fund priority projects.”
He said as a critical part of the government, the legislature is backed by law to ensure the country’s resources are used judiciously for the betterment of the masses.
The House of Representatives is set to petition President Muhammadu Buhari over the refusal of some agencies of government to appear before its Committee on Public Account to answer questions over financial irregularities traced to them or clarify some records provided by other agencies.
The House Committee on Public Account is particularly not happy with the refusal of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emiefele, Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Managing Director of the Nigeria Port Authority, Haha Hadiza Bala Usman and the Bureau for Public Enterprises to appear before it over sales of federal government landed property across the country.
The agencies, alongside the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), and the Petroleum Equalisation Fund failed to appear before the Committee on Public Account over the sales of some government property.
Chairman of the House Committee on Public Account, Rep. Wole Oke told the Clerk of the Committee to forward a petition to the President through the office of the Secretary to the Federation and the Chief of Staff to the President informing him of the refusal of the heads of the agency to honour the invitation of the Parliament.
He said the President should compel the agencies to honour the invitation of the House within seven days.
However, at its hearing on Wednesday, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and the Nigeria Electricity Liabilities Management Company denied selling any government property or being in possession of any proceeds from the sale.
Managing Director of Transmission Company of Nigeria, Engr S.A. Abdulazeez said told the Committee that “TCN was not involved in the sales of federal government landed property.
When the Power Holding Company was privatized, all assets and liabilities were handed over to the Nigerian Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO and so, we have no presentation to make”.
Responding to, Director General of NELMCO, Adebayo Fagbemi said not all PHCN assets were transferred to the agency, adding that some of the property handed over to him were already sold before they were handed over to them.
He said that the gazette authorising the transfer also transferred some of the assets to other agencies including the Nigeria Electricity Management Service Agency and National Power Training Institute of Nigeria and the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET).
He disclosed that their schedules were transferred to the agency by the gazette, adding that some of the property listed in the schedules were already sold by the Presidential Implementation Committee, the Federal Capital Territory Authority, and the FIRS before they were handed over to the agency merely on paper.
He said those assets already sold should have been expunged from the list of assets handed over to them, adding that the agencies that took charge and sold the property should be in a better position to explain where the money realised from the sale was kept.
He said NELMCO only recently got approval from the Bureau of Public Enterprises to begin the sale of about 52 government property, adding that the process of selling those property is currently being carried out.
Asked whether the property were sold before being handed over to them, he said: “the transfers were done officially in 2013 by the BPE and by 2013, some of them were already sold and the proceeds were never transferred to us”.
The Secretary to the Presidential Implementation Committee on the Sales of Federal Government landed property, Kola Adeyemi, however, confirmed that the property were sold and the proceeds deposited in a special account at the CBN created for that purpose.
He said the Committee never had access to the proceeds as the transaction was carried out in line with Presidential directives.
The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, has reacted to the controversy trailing the Federal Government’s planned securement of $500million loan from China.
The House of Representatives had raised an alarm over clauses in Article 8 (1) of the Commercial Loan Agreement signed between Nigeria and the Export-Import Bank of China.
In the said agreement, Nigeria stands to concede her sovereignty to China should there be a default in the repayment of the $400million for the Nigerian National Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone phase 2 project signed in 2018.
The controversial clause in the agreement signed by the Federal Ministry of Finance on behalf of Nigeria and Chinese bank on September 5, 2018 provides:
“The borrower hereby irrevocably provides waives any immunity on the grounds of sovereign or otherwise for itself or its property in connection with any arbitration pursuit to Article 85 thereof with the enforcement of any arbitral award pursuit thereto except for the military asset and diplomatic asset.”
But Amaechi, who appeared as a guest on Media TV (known to Noble Reporters Media), explained that he told the National Assembly members not to probe the loan issue too much in order not to scare the lender.
“The reason why I said that is because we have already applied for $5.3billion to execute the rail from Ibadan to Kano. We are about applying for about $3billion to execute the rail from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri.
“Don’t forget the National Assembly approved that loan. It is unconstitutional and impeachable if you take a loan without the approval of the National Assembly. So the same National Assembly that approved the loan is now questioning the same loan and the terms of the loan having looked at it before.
“If I am the lender, I will be worried. If they get worried, they will say ‘No, we will not approve the remaining loans you have applied for,” he said.
Amaechi who described the loan as the cheapest so far, said the Chinese loan is a concessionary loans at 2.8 percent interest.
He explained that before meeting China, the Federal Government had already approached other countries who didn’t approve the request on the ground that they didn’t have money.
The Minister Of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has appealed to the National Assembly to halt its probe of the 500 million dollars loan from the Chinese government.
Amaechi made the appeal during an investigative hearing of the House of Representatives Committee on Treaties and Protocols on Wednesday.
According to the him, the loan which is meant for the completion of the Federal Government’s rail projects may be truncated by the Chinese government if it suspects that there is a disagreement between the executive and the legislature.
The minister also argued that constant probing of the investigation may suggest that an arm of government does not agree with the loan and may cause the Chinese government to withdraw it.
The spokesman for the House of Representatives, Rep. Benjamin Kalu (APC-Abia) has alleged that the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, has not proved his allegations against members of the parliament.
In a statement, Kalu challenged the minister to go public with documents to prove that 60 per cent of contracts in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was awarded to lawmakers.
He recalled that Akpabio had made the allegation at an investigative hearing on the alleged N40 billion financial malfeasance in the NDDC.
He recalled that the Speaker of the House, Rep. Femi Gbajabimila, challenged the minister to publish the list of the members within 48 hours.
According to him, instead of publishing the list for the world to see in the interest of transparency, the minister chose to send an eight-paragraph private letter to the speaker.
Kalu explained that the letter by the minister made reference to projects of 2018 which pre-date the 9th House of Representatives and had little to do with the bogus allegation.
“The House, therefore, reiterates that the minister was given an ultimatum to publish names and not to write a personal letter to the speaker.
“The minister is hereby cautioned to desist from spinning tales and is invited to go public as instructed.
“Nevertheless, it will interest Nigerians to know that paragraph three of the minister’s letter fully exonerated the 9th Assembly.
“Also, in paragraph seven, the minister completely withdrew his previous statement about 60 per cent of the NDDC projects being awarded to members of the 9th Assembly.
“It is also instructive for Nigerians to note that the total number of projects in the 2019 NDDC budget was 5959 out of which 5416 projects were rolled over from 2018, which the 9th Assembly obviously had no influence or control over,” he said.
Kalu said that Akpabio presented an ineffectual spreadsheet of only 266 projects out of which about 20 projects were attracted by past members of the National Assembly as constituency projects.
He said that the projects were given to the members as contractors, but in furtherance of their representative mandate for the constituency.
According to him, the projects presented in the Akpabio’s letter are not within the scope of the investigation and has do nothing to address the leadership’s ultimatum.
Kalu said that contrary to the mischievous narrative being peddled on the internet, the only mention of the Chairman of the NDDC Committee of the 9th House of Representatives, Rep. Olubumi Tunji-Ojo in that letter, was as to his alleged request for the complete payment of 19 contractors.
The legislator said that the contractors had approached Tunji-Ojo with complaints about NDDC’s non-payment for their services.
He added that the allegation had been completely refuted by Tunji-Ojo and for which there is no evidence linking him.
The spokesman, however, said that the directive to press charges against the Akpabio has not been lifted by the House as the leadership was busy considering the weight of the minister’s letter.
“If it does not clear the doubt and wrong perception, it will be sent to the court for clearance as the speaker stated,” he added.
The House of Representatives has asked the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, to publish the names of the members of the National Assembly who got contracts from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Spokesman for the House and Committee Chairman on Media Affairs and Publicity, Benjamin Kalu, said this in a statement on Tuesday.
He noted that the minister had alleged that 60 percent of all the NDDC projects were awarded to members of the lawmakers between the months of January and May 2020.
Kalu explained that following the claim, the leadership of the 9th House issued a 48-hour ultimatum to Akpabio to publish a list of the lawmakers.
He decried that rather than doing as instructed, the minister wrote to the Speaker of the House, adding that the content of the letter was irrelevant to the issues raised.
The House spokesman revealed that the lawmakers were already evaluating the minister’s letter and the directive to press charges against him have not been lifted.
He said if the letter does not address the issues raised, it would be sent to the court for clearance as the speaker had stated.
Kalu, therefore, urged Nigerians to continue to ask the right questions as to what happened to the N81.5 billion said to have been mismanaged by the NDDC in six months.
Read the full statement below:
SEN. AKPABIO’S PERSONAL LETTER TO THE SPEAKER EXONERATES THE 9TH HOUSE BUT FAILS TO MEET THE ULTIMATUM, THE MINISTER IS INVITED TO PUBLISH THE LIST AS INSTRUCTED
Following a motion unanimously adopted by the House, an investigation was ordered into the activities and financial malfeasance of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and its Interim Management Committee (IMC) between the periods of January to May 2020.
In a coordinated and calculated attempt to distract Nigerians from the ongoing investigation, the Minister of NDDC and the leadership of the IMC raised spurious allegations against members of the National Assembly.
The Minister claimed under oath that 60% of all the NDDC projects under investigation were awarded to members of the House between the months of January and May 2020.
Following this disturbing allegation, the leadership of the 9th House issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the Minister to publish a list of the legislators allegedly awarded 60% of the entire projects of NDDC between January and May 2020.
Instead of publishing the list for the world to see in the interest of transparency, the Minister in his usual diversionary tactics, chose to send an irrelevant 8-paragraph private letter to the Speaker regarding projects of 2018 which pre-date the 9th House of Representatives and had little to do with the bogus claims he made.
The House, therefore, reiterates that the Minister was given an ultimatum to publish names and not to write a personal letter to the Speaker. The Honourable Minister is hereby cautioned to desist from spinning tales and is invited to go public as instructed.
Nevertheless, it will interest Nigerians to know that paragraph 3 of the Minister’s letter fully exonerated the 9th Assembly. Also, in paragraph 7, the Minister completely withdrew his previous statement about 60% of the NDDC projects being awarded to members of the 9th Assembly.
It is also instructive for Nigerians to note that the total number of projects in the 2019 NDDC budget was 5,959 out of which 5,416 projects were rolled over from 2018, which the 9th Assembly obviously had no influence or control over.
Therefore, unable to prove his claims, the Minister presented an ineffectual spreadsheet of only 266 projects out of which about 20 projects were attracted by past members of the National Assembly as constituency projects, not as contractors, but in furtherance of their representative mandate.
The projects presented in the Minister’s letter are not within the scope of the investigation and do nothing to address the leadership’s ultimatum for him to publish the list of names of the members who he claimed took 60% of NDDC projects from January to May 2020.
Also, contrary to the mischievous narrative being peddled on the internet, the only mention of the Chairman of the NDDC Committee of the 9th House of Representatives, Rep. Tunji Ojo in that letter, was as to his alleged request for the complete payment of 19 contractors who had approached him with complaints over NDDC’s non-payment for their services.
This is, however, an allegation which has been completely refuted by Rep. Ojo and for which there is no evidence linking him.
The one member of the House mentioned in that letter only attracted the project to his federal constituency, in the same manner that the NDDC MD, EDFA, EDP, Chairman etc applied to the Commission for attention to the needs of their people and were obliged.
This attraction of projects does not in any way mean that contracts were personally awarded to them.
Additionally, the letter also listed the names of contract awardees with no evidence linking them to those who attracted the projects to the beneficiary communities. It takes lifting the corporate veil for the directors to be seen and the Corporate Affairs Commission is there to establish who the real owners of the companies are.
Until then, it is wrong to attempt to establish a nexus which currently does not exist. The document remains a mere spreadsheet of people who attracted projects to their communities in furtherance of their representative functions.
Furthermore, the directive to press charges against the Minister has not been lifted by the House as the leadership is busy considering the weight of the Honourable Minister’s letter. If it does not clear the doubt and wrong perception, it will be sent to the court for clearance as the Speaker stated.
Once again, the letter’s annexures showing 2018 projects have no relevance to what was requested from the Minister because it was outside the scope of his claims, it was also not comprehensive but selective by mentioning only one current member for attracting projects to his constituency and not for receiving contracts.
The House is mindful of a letter currently before it where the Minister also applied to attract several projects to his Senatorial Zone during his time at the Senate, does it mean the contracts were awarded to him?
Nigerians are encouraged to ignore the deflections of the Honourable Minister and continue to ask the right questions as to what happened to the money of the region which has led to a gross disservice to Niger-Deltans.
Nigerians should start asking the right questions and demanding the right answers; and the right question remains, “What happened to Nigeria’s ₦81.5billion under the charge of NDDC in the space of 6 months?”
The controversy trailing the corruption scandal in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has continued to spark mixed reactions in the country.
Amid a series of drama, confrontation, and war of words, the National Assembly is investigating the allegation of corruption in the agency.
Among the latest dramatic events from the probe is the heated argument between a lawyer, Mr Monday Ubani, and the spokesperson for the House of Representatives, Mr Benjamin Kalu, during their appearance on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.
Ubani, who is also a governance expert, and Kalu, who is also the House Committee Chairman on Media Affairs and Publicity, disagreed over the allegation by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, on the complicity of some lawmakers in the contract scam in the NDDC.
The Powerful Politicians
While the lawyer stressed that there were evidence that some lawmakers have been indicted, the lawmaker insisted that there was nothing of such.
“We are waiting for them (the House) to initiate criminal prosecution against Godswill Akpabio; when they now try it, they will get to know the names of those that are there with them,” Ubani said.
According to him, the lawmakers cannot initiate any criminal prosecution or civil prosecution when the minister has names of members of the present House that have been indicted.
Ubani alleged that the annexure attached to the minister’s letter to the House contained the names of the lawmakers, including the chairmen of the Senate and House committees investigating the NDDC.
He said, “Both committee chairmen; there are other members of the House that are there, including some powerful politicians.
“Let me tell you what happened in the House. In the morning, the Speaker was saying that he had referred this particular matter to the Clerk, asking that lawyers should be engaged to initiate criminal perjury and civil defamation against Akpabio when he has not gotten the letter.”
“The moment the letter came that has this list of all the members that are implicated, remember how the Speaker ended? He said ‘this matter is now rested; I will now refer this matter to the Ethics and Privileges Committee’ which means this matter has died a natural death,” Ubani added.
Akpabio Exonerated Us
In a swift reaction, Kalu who is also a lawyer, faulted the allegations by Ubani, stressing that the Akpabio had exonerated the lawmakers in his letter.
He said, “With due respect to my senior colleague, he is wasting the time of Nigerians and your airtime, what is he referring to? What I have here is a document from the minister; the original document.
The lawmaker, therefore, challenged Ubani to mention the names of the members of the 9th Assembly who constituted 60 per cent of the project of the NDDC as claimed.
He also questioned if the two members said to have been named by the minister as purported beneficiaries of the contracts constituted 60 per cent.
While he noted that he could not speak for the Senate, Kalu insisted that the name of the House Committee Chairman, Olubunmi Ojo, was not mentioned in the document.
The said document, he stated, referred to the events in 2018 and has no relevance to the probe of the agency between January and May 2020.