Reps drag Akpabio to court over NDDC contract claims
The House of Representatives has passed a resolution to sue Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, over his claim that members of the National Assembly got “most” of the contracts awarded by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Akpabio’s ministry supervises the intervention agency, which is being investigated by the House over allegation of misappropriating N40 billion.
Appearing before the House Committee on NDDC on Monday, the minister claimed that members of the National Assembly got most of the contracts.
On Tuesday, the lower chamber passed a resolution requiring the minister to name the beneficiaries and the projects awarded within 48 hours or face legal action.
At the expiration of the ultimatum, the House resolved to sue the minister at plenary on Thursday.
The Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila said that the House could not allow the “indicting” comment go unchallenged.
“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 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.
“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.”