Akpabio denies accusing Reps, as House moves to sue for defamation, perjury

Alleged fraud

Posted  166 Views updated 6 months ago
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The House of Representatives has resolved to sue the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, for alleged perjury and defamation of the parliament.

 

Akpabio had on Monday, while appearing before the House Committee on the Niger Delta Development Commission at an investigative hearing on the alleged illegal spending and mismanagement by the NDDC, alleged that members of the National Assembly got 60 per cent of contracts from the commission.

 

The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, with the leave of the House, on Tuesday, had asked the minister to provide details of the contracts between 24 hours and 48 hours.

 

 

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At the opening of plenary on Thursday, Gbajabiamila announced that Akpabio failed to meet the ultimatum to prove his allegation.

 

The Speaker said he had consequently asked the Clerk to the House, Patrick Giwa, to meet the lawyers on the legal action to be taken against the minister.

 

Gbajabiamila said, “Last Tuesday, I issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs to substantiate his allegation that over 60 per cent of contracts awarded by the NDDC went to members of the National Assembly. I said then that the minister owed it to himself and the country to provide evidence to support these serious allegations.

 

“The minister has failed to respond to my request. Therefore, I must conclude that his statement was intended solely to gaslight the nation to avoid accountability for the evident maladministration and malfeasance in the NDDC.

 

“This morning, I asked the Clerk of the House 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 the counsel to explore the possibility of a civil defamation suit against the minister.”

 

About one hour later, the Speaker announced that Akpabio had replied the House and recanted the claim.

 

In a letter read out by Gbajabiamila, the minister said, “I never referred to members of the 9th House of Representatives as beneficiaries of the NDDC contracts, as the NDDC is yet to fully implement any budget since the commencement of the 9th National Assembly.”

 

 

Akpabio and Gbajabiamila

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Akpabio said the Executive Director, Projects, NDDC, Dr Cairo Ojougboh, forwarded to him 19 old contracts amounting to N9bn, which the Chairman of the House Committee on the NDDC, Mr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, insisted that the IMC must pay for.

 

The minister stated, “As a former Minority Leader of the 8th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I shall forever hold the ideals of the National Assembly and will not make the entire document public, which I got from the lead forensic auditor in confidence.

 

“As to the reference to 60 per cent of contracts, the investigative committee refused and neglected to give me (an) opportunity to explain that I was responding to a question by a member of the committee. Permit me to explain that any reference to 60 per cent during the investigative hearing was in answer to a question by a member of the committee as to whether or not a medical doctor could act as executive director, projects, which I answered in (the) affirmative and that the greatest project in the world today is COVID-19, which is medical in nature.

 

 

 

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