…We must prove ourselves worthy of public trust, says Gbajabiamila

BREAKING: Reps drag Akpabio to Court over 60% NDDC contracts allegations
Akpabio

By Tordue Salem and Levinus Nwabughiogu

The House of Representatives has resolved to sue the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio for criminal perjury and civil defamation.

Speaker of the House, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila made the decision on Thursday on behalf of the House.

The House had on Tuesday, given Akpabio 48 hours to name companies and Lawmakers that he claimed collected contracts from the scandal-riddled Niger Delta Development Commission, or face litigation.

For failing to publish the names of members of the National Assembly who allegedly benefited from the lucrative contracts of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, the House of Representatives sued the Minister.

Akpabio had at a public investigative hearing of the House Committee on Niger Delta on Monday stated that 60% of the Commission’s contracts were handled by the National Assembly members.

Seeing no publication as to the beneficiaries after 48 hours, Gbajabiamila said that the law must take its course to clear the name of the institution.

To this end, he had instructed the clerk of the House to begin the court processes.

He said: “Last Tuesday I issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs to substantiate his allegation that over 60% (sixty per cent) of contracts awarded by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) went to members of the National Assembly. I said then that the Honourable Minister owed it to himself and the country to provide evidence to support these serious allegations.

READ ALSO: NDDC Probe: Gbajabiamila gives Akpabio 48hrs to publish names of Reps who got contracts

“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.”

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