By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, has denied the allegation made by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, that he refused to appear before the lawmakers to brief the House on the plights of Nigerians in South Africa following the recent xenophobic attacks.
Onyeama in a statement issued Wednesday by the Spokesperson of the ministry, Mr. Ferdinand Nwonye, insisted that it was not true that Minsitry disrespected the House following his failure to honour their invitation.
The House had summoned the minister to brief the lawmakers on his efforts to address the plight of Nigerians in South Africa, but the minister decided to attend the Federal Executive Council meeting instead.
Onyeama’s decision however infuriated Gbajabiamila who vowed at the plenary on Wednesday to take punitive measures against him and report him to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Minister said, “It has come to the attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs a statement credited to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, in which he alleged to have charged that Geoffrey Onyeama, the Minister of Foreign Affairs refused to appear before the House plenary and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to brief them on his efforts to address the plight of Nigerians in the Republic of South Africa and that he would take punitive measures against him and report him to the President.
“The Ministry wishes to inform the public that there is no iota of truth whatsoever in such a charge. The truth of the matter is that by a letter dated September 9, 2019, by the Chief of Staff to the Speaker, the Minister of Foreign Affairs was invited to a meeting with the leadership of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, September 11, 2019 at 11.00am in the Speaker’s Office.”
Onyeama added that by the letter dated September 10, 2019, that his office wrote to the Chief of Staff to the Speaker, informing him that the minister would be in the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at that time, and that he looked forward to a meeting at a time to be mutually agreed on.
The minister therefore reiterated his respect for the the National Assembly.