BY OKEY NDIRIBE & EMMAN OVUAKPORIE
ABUJA — The House of Representatives, yesterday, threatened to order the arrest of Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and former Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Verification and Reconciliation of Subsidy Payments, Mr Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, for failing to appear before the House Committee on Public Petitions.
Chairman of the House Committee, Hon. Uzo Azubuike, issued the threat at yesterday’s hearing of the committee which continued deliberation on a petition presented to it by the Managing Director of Capital Oil and Gas Ltd, Ifeanyi Ubah.
Azubuike had said the two personalities had shunned the invitation of the committee twice and their absence was frustrating the investigative work of his Committee.
In spite of the absence of the two personalities, the public hearing went on yesterday with the appearance of the two gladiators, namely Chairman of Coscharis Group, Mr Cosmas Maduka and Ifeanyi Uba, Managing Director, Capital Oil and Gas Industries Limited.
In response to the excuse that Okonjo-Iweala was absent because of the kidnap of her mother, Azubuike said the invitation was not for the minister as a person but for the Federal Ministry of Finance to put up an appearance and supply the information requested by the committee.
He warned that if the ministry was not represented at the next sitting of the investigative panel, the committee would be left with no other option but to issue a warrant of arrest on the head of the ministry.
Aig-Imoukhuede had, through his lawyers informed the committee of his absence on legal grounds. In the letter, he pleaded that whereas the committee invited him as Chairman, Presidential Committee on Verification of Subsidy Payments, he had since discharged his role in that committee and submitted a report to the government. According to him, there was, therefore, no more legal grounds for him to function in that capacity.
Aig-Imoukhuede also pleaded that the issues for which he was being invited were already before different courts in Nigeria and abroad, hence discussing them would amount to contempt of the courts.