By Emmanuel Aziken, EMMAN OVUAKPORIE & Chris Ochayi
ABUJA — TWO members of the House of Representatives, Mr Adeola Olamilekan and Mr Adeyinka Ajayi, yesterday, justified the suspension of the former chairman of the ad-hoc committee on fuel subsidy monitoring regime, Mr Farouk Lawan.
Notwithstanding the $620,000 bribery scandal involving Lawan, Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP, yesterday, gave Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, a two-week ultimatum to commence prosecution of those indicted by the House of Representatives Committee’s reports on fuel subsidy regime.
Similarly, Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, has urged the presidency to emulate the House of Representatives in the urgency, courage and sense of purpose with which the legislative chamber had so far handled the case of alleged bribery involving one of its ranking members.
Meantime, Mr Eseme Eyiboh, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Donor Agencies and Civil Societies, has faulted criticism of the House resolution re-enlisting his company, Zenon Petroleum among the indicted firms by Mr. Femi Otedola.
“Mr. Otedola must know that his confession of intention to procure the delisting of Zenon Oil & Gas Ltd from the list of the ‘Termites’ of our oil subsidy regime and his subsequent act of giving $620,000 to effect same had established an (actus rea & mens rea — Agreement of Act & Intention) criminal cause of action.”
ACN hail Reps
ACN in a statement in Lagos by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the decision of the House to suspend Lawan as the chairman of the ad hoc committee on fuel subsidy management, while also standing by the report of the committee, sends a strong signal that the House will not condone corruption under any guise, and that it practices what it preaches.
The party added that though it had not been conclusively proven that Lawan indeed took the bribe as alleged, the House went ahead to suspend him, unlike the Presidency, which had been shielding all those indicted in the monumental fraud uncovered by the committee, a tale of two nations in one.
Reps justify suspension
Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Mr Olamilekan, who justified the suspension of Lawan, said: “The position of the House is clear. There was no favouritism in whatever form. We collectively took the decision despite the fact that investigation into the matter was on-going.
“It had not been proven that our member took one kobo from anybody, yet we suspended him from being chairman of both committees he heads.”
On Zenon Oil and Synopsis, Olamilekan said: “The leadership in its wisdom re-listed Zenon Oil and Gas Co and Synopsis Enterprises that were initially delisted from the report.”
On why the House downplayed the punishment on Lawan by merely suspending him, he noted: “Nobody is a sacred cow but I disagree that we gave him a soft landing. Remember that the House Resolution had directed security agencies and the Ethics and Privileges Committee to fully investigate the matter. “
Ajayi, House Committee Chairman on Loans and Debts Management, said: “We have so far taken the right step, considering the sensitivity of the issue at hand and we cannot be judgmental until a proper investigation was carried out.”
EFCC has concrete evidence —CNPP
National Publicity Secretary of CNPP, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, in a statement, said the EFCC had concrete evidence to commence prosecution forthwith; otherwise the rumour making the round that it had been compromised will be confirmed.
CNPP warned that “in the likely event of such sordid scenario of unholy alliance between the alleged oil thieves and EFCC, CNPP will have no option than head to court to obtain an order of mandamus to force the EFCC Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, to perform his statutory function.”