Hon Sam Tsokwa (PDP, Taraba), the Chairman of the House Business and Rules Committee has said that the House of Representatives is considering moving a bill that when passed, will recommend capital punishment as punitive measures for corruption. He said that such a law would not be dependent on the amount of public funds stolen, whether it is one naira or a million dollars, adding that when two or three people lose their lives because of corruption, politicians would think twice before stealing public funds.
He said this in an interview where he bared his minds about many contemporary issues involving the House of Representatives, where his committee operates as the engine room, setting the agenda for House sittings.
While responding to a question that the House of Representatives always covered up its members involved in corruption cases, such as Honourables Farouk Lawan and Herman Hembe, Hon. Tsokwa refuted the allegations, saying that 2 cases out of 360 members could not be taken as a generalization of how the House acted.
He added that the two cases were peculiar, even from each other, noting that in Lawan’s case, it was an attempt by the executive to rubbish the report by the ad-hoc committee investigating the fuel subsidy regime which Lawan was heading, whereas Hembe’s case is still in court.
He also said that the House Committee investigating the bribery allegations against Lawan have not submitted their report because his case exceeds the internal disciplinary mechanism of the House via the Ethics and Privileges Committee. He said the House had no powers to prosecute Lawan, and only the agencies responsible could do that, adding that the inability of the Inspector-General to prosecute Lawan suggested that the allegations against him were mere fabrications.
He was also of the opinion that the probes constituted by the House every now and then was not distracting them from their work, as it is part of their mandate to perform oversight functions in addition to law making.
In his assessment of the 7th Assembly under the leadership of the Speaker, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Hon. Tsokwa said that so far, the House has been keeping to the agenda which it designed for itself, debated and approved on the house floor and circulated among Nigerians. He said that even though there is a lot left to be desired, so far, they were on the right track.
He gave examples of when the House cut short its Christmas recess in 2011 to convene on a Sunday in order to deliberate on the sudden withdrawal of fuel subsidies by the executive, which did a lot to prevent crises.
He also said that with respect to fighting corruption, he said that the House has commenced confronting the issue head-on, although he doesn’t expect it to be solved in one day.
He added that each constituency has its peculiar problem, which he used to justify his statements that the President ought to do his budget in consultation with the grassroots.
“In my constituency, the only road we have has potholes and this has been killing people everyday, can you call that trivial? Yes it is trivial because you have expressways in your place. In Abuja here out of 24 hours electricity we have at least 12 hours. In my place in a whole month if we have light for 3 days that is Xmas gift. So if I come to the floor of the House to discuss it will you term it as being trivial?
“Nigeria is such a big place; such an enormous place that the need of one area may not be the need of another area. So what is trivial to you may not be trivial to me. And what is important to you may not be important to me; that is why you have various motions. Actually that is representation? It is to represent what your people need in your constituency.”
“Concerning the issue of oversight, I saw a piece in a newspaper about theft at the Security Printing and Minting Company and I checked online to confirm. Immediately I confirmed, I sent a motion to the floor of the House and the matter will be investigated. Some people may consider it trivial.”