•Gives 48-hour ultimatum
Adedayo Akinwale and Udora Orizu in Abuja
The House of Representatives yesterday gave the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, a 48-hour ultimatum to publish the names of National Assembly members who got contracts from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Speaker of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, gave the deadline while ruling on a matter of privileges moved by the Minority Leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, during plenary yesterday.
The minister, while appearing before the House Committee on NDDC investigating financial malfeasance in the commission on Monday, had accused lawmakers of being major contractors of the NDDC, getting about 60 per cent of the contracts.
He had said: “I have records to show that most of the NDDC contracts were given out to the National Assembly members. The two chairmen of both committees can explain to you.”
However, following Elumelu’s motion on the allegation, Gbajabiamila said the minister should not only publish names of the beneficiary lawmakers, but the companies and the contracts they had been executing.
”Akpabio owes it a duty to himself, the House Committee on Niger Delta, the people of Niger Delta and Nigerians to publish the names of lawmakers who got contracts from the NDDC.
“This is my fifth term here and I have never for once collected anything from the National Assembly and I know I speak for a great majority of members of this House, a great majority. And because of that, I will take this allegation and accusation very seriously.
“And I will give the minister (Akpabio) 24 to 48 hours. Clerk, I want you to back this up with a letter from this House. Give the minister 24 to 48 hours to publish the names, the contracts so given, the dates because obviously these things will be documented; unveil the companies of the 60 per cent projects that were given to members of the National Assembly,” he added.
THISDAY had reported that in a self-indicting testimony yesterday, Akpabio, told the lawmakers that the agency under his watch gave out some contracts to members of the National Assembly, contrary to the provisions of the Code of Conduct for public officers.
Under the code enshrined in the 1999 Constitution, as amended, it is an offence for public officers to put themselves in a situation where they could have a conflict of interest.
In a swift response, however, the Senate had also challenged the minister to unveil the identities of the lawmakers who had been NDDC contractors.