A group, Niger Delta Renaissance Coalition, has faulted the call by the Human Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) that the National Assembly Committees probing the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of NDDC for alleged spending of N40 billion in three months without regard to due process be suspended.
HURIWA had in a news report called for the suspension of the NDDC probe by the National Assembly and demanded the constitution of a wholly independent investigation by “a credible platform such as a high profile judicial commission of inquiry to be headed by a respected jurist of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and other representatives of the Civil society, the academia, the security/defence sector.”
The Niger Delta Renaissance Coalition in a press release by its Director of Research and Strategy, Damian Nwikinaka, said: “In a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media Affairs Director, Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA which has now become another hireling of NDDC IMC said that it “is the imperative call and need for the immediate constitution jointly by the President Muhammadu Buhari and the hierarchy of the National Assembly of a 7-member powerful but independent Judicial Investigative commission to look at the accusations of corruption and fraud in both the IMC of the Commission and the relevant committees of the two chambers of the National Assembly on Niger Delta Development Commission.”
“We wish to alert Nigerians and all lovers of democracy, which thrives on the principle and doctrine of separation of powers, that this new assault on the integrity and independence of the legislature is another subterfuge of the open challenge, by the IMC, of the legitimacy of the National Assembly.
“This unprecedented act of lies, propaganda, and blackmail by HURIWA which borders on treason challenges the integrity of our constitutional democracy; and seeks to rubbish the National Assembly’s independence and its co-equal status to the executive arm of government by its call on President Buhari to suspend the Committees of both Houses of the National Assembly.”
The group further stated that, “May we remind HURIWA and other hirelings of the IMC still lurking in the corners that under the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) the National Assembly is empowered to oversight activities of the executive branch of government including all ministries, departments and agencies. It is not a right that can be abridged or subsumed under the executive branch. In particular, Section 88 (1) of the constitution (as amended), confers on the National Assembly the power to ‘direct or cause to be directed investigation into – (a) any matter or thing with respect to which it has power to make laws, and (b) the conduct of affairs of any person, authority, ministry or government department charged, or intended to be charged, with the duty of or responsibility for – (i) executing or administering laws enacted by National Assembly, and (ii) disbursing or administering moneys appropriated or to be appropriated by the National Assembly.”
The group said this was why the National Assembly had a responsibility to investigate the books of NDDC where Akpabio and the IMC had been accused of allegedly misappropriating the sum of N40 billion.
“That the IMC, which by the way is not known to the law setting up NDDC, has leveled allegations against the Committees of the National Assembly does not therefore obviate from the constitutional empowerment of the legislature to exercise its oversight functions. HURIWA which has chosen to cry louder than the bereaved, and its pay masters, IMC, have the nation’s anti-corruption agencies such as the EFCC and ICPC to run to and make their formal cases rather than the resort to threats, lies, abuses, and blackmail of the National Assembly thereby trying to sabotage the constitutionally guaranteed oversight function of the legislature.
“We also wish to remind HURIWA that the principle of checks and balances in our constitutional democracy is that each branch of government is independent and any difference between both arms is resolved by the courts as the final arbiter. This principle induces one branch to prevent either of the other branches from becoming supreme, thereby securing political liberty,” the group said.
The group added that it “is the sanctity of the doctrine of separation of powers that is the crux of the matter and why HURIWA must be challenged and exposed for what they stand for, which for all intents and purposes jeorpadises the nation’s democratic journey.”
Niger Delta Renaissance Coalition also said “HURIWA needs reminding that the investigation being carried out is in the natural line of duty of the National Assembly made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
“What HURIWA is doing is to distort the object of the probe; divert attention from the allegations against the IMC, seek to damage the integrity of the National Assembly, hurt our constitutional democracy, and thereby let the illegal IMC continue to loot the NDDC without checks.
“We will therefore not condone this and we urge the National Assembly and all Nigerians to stand firm and reject, once again, this cheap blackmail that the likes of HURIWA have made their stock in trade.”