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Arms deal probe: Reps hold closed door investigative hearing

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By Emman Ovuakporie

ABUJA — The much anticipated investigative public hearing into the controversial arms procurement deal by the House of Representatives was held behind closed door, yesterday, in the new wing of the National Assembly complex.

The probe, which began, Wednesday, was suddenly adjourned till yesterday after some of the invited stakeholders and respondents, who were expected to give explanations regarding their roles in the process, merely submitted their memoranda.

The House of Representatives Joint Committees on National Security and Intelligence as well as Public Procurement, chaired by Sani Jaji and Wole Oke, had been mandated by the leadership to carry out the investigation, with a view to establishing compliance with, or violation of the nation’s procurement law.

However, yesterday, the joint committee, which appealed to journalists, Wednesday, to ignore the appalling level of organisation, decided to hold the probe in secrecy, fuelling speculations that the House probably had soft-pedaled.

Disappointed by this unwholesome development, Mohammed Sani Zorro (APC, Zamfara), questioned the rationale behind the classification of the subject matter as purely security.

He said:  “Take for instance, what is happening in the US regarding this Comey sack (the sacked FBI Director by President Trump).

‘’Now, while the Justice Department has appointed an independent prosecutor who happened to be a former director of the FBI, the Congress still continues with the investigation; one, into the Russian meddling matter, and two, into the James Comey sack with a view to establishing any possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump”.

“Similarly, it’s the committee that would determine what constitute security here, so they have no right to ask the media to go out because it’s a security matter.

“When Badeh was embezzling money meant for the air force, he was using the word operations to buy houses and other properties directly from the military budget. All the cash so diverted came from what was meant for operations. What has buying of personal properties with public funds got to do with security matter?”, Zorro wondered.

Vanguard sighted some of the invited contractors as early as  9.55am  searching for the venue of the hearing which was suddenly changed from hall 034 in the new wing of the complex.

All attempts by Vanguard to reach the committee’s clerk proved abortive.

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