By Tordue Salem
The House of Representatives has disbanded its ad hoc committee investigating the purchase, use and control of arms, ammunition, and related hardware by Military, Paramilitary and other Law Enforcement Agencies in Nigeria.
The panel was relieved of its mandate by the House on Wednesday.
The probe may be continued by another committee, that will be constituted by the Speaker in accordance with the House Rules.
The Adhoc committee had, at its last public sitting given the Chief of Army Staff time to go back and prepare a comprehensive position for presentation to it, while also asking the Inspector General of Police to do same and report back to the Committee.
Recall that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Ibrahim Attahiru had told the committee to direct its enquirer at his predecessors, as he was not in the office at the time the funds for arms were disbursed.
However, the Committee as part of the twelve committees whose assignment was discharged by the House at Wednesday’s plenary in accordance with Order Eighteen, Rule 3 (1) (g) of the Standing Order of the House and having failed to submit its report within the stipulated time.
Rep Bede Eke, a member of the panel, however, kicked against the decision to strip the committee of its assignment, saying he was aware that the majority of the members have signed an interim report which was to be presented to the House.
Rep. Eke said disbanding the committee of the mandate would affect their presentation of the report, as he pleaded to the House to accept their report on Thursday, May 6.
The Speaker said discharging the committee of the assignment would not stop them from submitting their report on Thursday.
The Speaker had asked all Adhoc committees to submit their reports on or before April 30 or risk being discharged from the assignment.
The committees that were discharged of their assignment include Ad–hoc Committee to Interface with the Executive Arm of Government and the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (Shi’ite), Ad–hoc Committee to Investigate the Assault and Rape of Student by Teachers at the FCT School of the Blind, Jabi, and Ad–hoc Committee to Investigate the Crude Oil Theft in Nigeria.
They also include Ad–hoc Committee on the Alleged Negligence by the Federal Ministries of Justice, and Petroleum Resources in the Handling of the Federal Government and the Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) Limited, Ad–hoc Committee to Investigate Oil- Spill Clean-ups and Remediation in the Oil Producing States and Ad–hoc Committee on the Recent Global Crash in the price of Crude Oil on the Appropriation Act, 2020. (HR.92/03/2020).
The rest are Ad–hoc Committee to Investigate the Non-inclusion of Waste Management and Disposal in the NLNG Train-7 Project, Ad–hoc Committee to Investigate the Financial Budgetary Provisions, Approvals and Multilateral Donations on Skills and Acquisition and Related Programmes of the Federal Government and its Agencies. Ad–hoc Committee on Power Sector Reforms.
Some of the ad-hoc committees were set up in 2019 and 2020 and were supposed to turn in their report within four or a maximum of eight weeks.
Chairman of the House Committee on Rules and Business, Rep. Hassan Fulata said the Ad–hoc Committees were constituted to carry out various assignments and were given a stipulated time frame within which to present their Reports.
He said the Committees were yet to present their reports contrary to the provisions of Order Eighteen, Rule 3 (1)(g) of the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives which states that “any matter referred to a committee shall be treated within 30 days otherwise the committee shall stand discharged after 60 days except upon a motion for extension of time which shall not exceed fifteen days and the matter committed to the Committee of the whole or any other committee as the Speaker may decide from time to time.”
Fulata also recalled the directive of the Speaker given on 26 April 2021 that all Ad–hoc Committees should present their Reports on or before 30 April 2021.
Meanwhile, the Speaker has also directed all standing committees of the House to submit a report of assignment referred to them on or before May 25, 2021, or risk being discharged from the assignment.
The plea by Minority Leader that the committees be allowed more time because the Account department often delays in releasing money to them for public hearing failed to placate the Speaker.
He explained that not all assignments referred to the committees require public hearing as the committees could do their work discreetly and submit a report in view of the fact that money available to the House was not enough to cover all public hearings.