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House removes Farouk Lawan over bribery scandal

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The leadership of the House of Representatives during the special plenary session vowed not to be intimidated by the Executive and any group on the $3 million bribery scandal involving one of its members, Farouk Lawan.

Considering the gravity of the allegation, the 282 members in attendance unanimously resolved to suspend Farouk Lawan, as chairman, House Committee on Education and Adhoc committee on Fuel Subsidy regime.

The lawmakers during Committee of the Whole unanimously adopted the recommendation that Synopsis Enterprises Ltd and Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd should be investigated by anti-graft agencies along with 13 other companies who participated in the purchase of foreign exchange but did not import.

The House also directed its Committee on Ethics and Privileges to thoroughly investigate the $620,000 bribery allegation and report back to the House within two weeks upon resumption from the two week annual recess.

Members during the consideration of the motion sponsored by Ishiaka Bawa, expressed support and encouraged ongoing investigation by relevant security and anti-graft agencies.

Aminu Tambuwal, Speaker of the House who presided on the session, argued that the House has "not been compromised and we shall never compromise our stand against corruption" stressing that "the credibility of that report therefore remains inviolable and we stand by it."

He also directed the management of the National Assembly to investigate Boniface Emenalo, secretary of adhoc committee on fuel subsidy and impose necessary sanction if found guilty.

The Speaker, who expressed support for the recommendations of the fuel subsidy report and the need for immediate implementation, however tasked the Executive to match words with action in the implementation of these resolutions.

Tambuwal, who expressed regrets over the scandal, vowed that the House will not spare any members, as well as the standing committees and Adhoc committee who indulge in sharp practices.

"I find it compelling to state for the umpteenth time that the constitutional power of investigation conferred on the Legislature is for the purpose of law reform and for the exposure of corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it. In the exercise of this function there shall be no sacred cows.

"I have emphasized the constitutionality of the oversight function of the legislature because there lingers among many public officials, the notion that in holding public or investigative hearings, the Legislature is over stepping its bounds and also neglecting its other functions. Nothing can be further from the truth. The records of our performance for the first legislative year which just ended on 6th June 2012 show that the performance in the area of legislation was equally impressive.

"I wish at this point to make this pledge that the House of Representatives shall continue to act responsibly by ensuring that all investigations are instituted only when absolutely necessary. Furthermore, we shall insist on probity and fairness on the part of our members conducting such investigations; and we shall not hesitate to sanction anyone who in the course of these investigations over-reaches himself or uses the process to intimidate anyone or engages in corruption.

"The recent investigations into two Sectors, namely Oil Subsidy Regime and Capital Market were conducted in public, evidence and testimonies were freely given and taken and in the case of oil subsidy regime, monumental fraud was disclosed in the report of the Ad-Hoc Committee which has since been passed by the House and referred to the Executive for implementation by relevant agencies.

"While we consider it preposterous and hasty to dismiss the current bribery allegations, pending the outcome of ongoing investigations, including our in-house investigation just instituted, we reject in totality insinuations being orchestrated in some media to the effect that the allegations have eroded the integrity of the Resolutions of the House on the report and rendered same unworthy of implementation.

"Let me reiterate that the resolutions of the Hose over the fuel subsidy regime remain valid despite this recent controversy. We must as a country learn to separate institutions from individuals and we must admit that, in the present case, the alleged conduct of an individual can not negate the conclusions of the whole House."

Tambuwal also reiterated the Houses resolve to ensure transparency in the conduct of government business including all the arms of government; all public functionaries and all persons doing business with government or operating under Acts of the legislature. "As members of parliament we enjoy no immunity and we seek none, let us therefore remind ourselves constantly that we must live above board. We offer ourselves for public scrutiny at all times in our effort to build a better Nigeria. As humans where we err and our attention is called we shall be willing to make amends in the overall national interest. "I call upon all of us to remain firm, resolute and committed to the execution of our constitutional mandate whatever the hazards. We must NEVER repeat NEVER be cowed or intimidated by any form or colour of antics that may be fashioned with intent to dampen our spirits and or break our resolve. It remains for me to say that, when the army suffers causalities of a few officers and men at the battle front, it beats no retreat except it does not intend to win the battle. I am confident that men and women of integrity and character are in the overwhelming majority in our fold and we do not lack the numbers to prosecute the battle. We shall be judged not only by our words but more so by our actions.

"To the good people of Nigeria we appeal for patience and understanding and wish to once more assure you of our sincerity of purpose and the determination to deliver the Nigeria of our dreams. The road may be rough and herculean but victory is sure.

"Now therefore is the time to double the pace of our performance, including the investigative hearings, given that from the monumental fraud uncovered through these investigations, we know that we are surely on course.

"The current unfortunate bribery allegation, whatever the outcome of ongoing investigation can only serve as impetus for us to do more, in the quest for the entrenchment of probity in governance.

"In addition to routine oversight, we shall investigate everything that needs to be investigated in the process of the fashioning of a better Nigeria. In this regard, we shall continue to seek synergy with the other arms of government so as not to work at cross purposes. May the Almighty God grant us the Courage and Grace to do what is right at all times and in all situations."

Speaking earlier, Samson Osagie, Minority whip noted that the corruption in the oil sector has deprived Nigerians of their commonwealth.

He said "The incident shouldnt have happened in the first instance, but since it has happened should allow the rule of law to take its course. We will refuse to be blackmailed as the Executive is using the security apparatus to hunt the Legislature."

He also commended the sagacity and dexterity of the Speaker in summoning special plenary session on a Friday.

When he moved for amendment of the prayer to include the need to pass Vote of confidence on the leadership of the House led by Aminu Tambuwal, all the members overwhelmingly supported the amendment, with a rousing applause.

Subsequently, the lawmakers resumed the consideration of the fuel subsidy report with the view to add the deleted clause on Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd and Synopsis Enterprises.

The Speaker also appointed John Enoh, as chairman the Adhoc committee on fuel subsidy regime following the removal of Farouk Lawan.

While addressing newsmen, Zakari Mohammed, chairman House Committee on Media and Public Affairs warned MDAs not to take advantage of the scandal during oversight functions adding that the House will not play politics with corruption related issues, as being done by other arms of government.

Also speaking, Solomon Adeola, chairman, House Committee on Public Account and Adeyinka Ajayi, chairman House Committee on Aids, Loans and Debt management who lauded the special plenary session held on the $3 million, maintained that the action was a clear evidence that the House has lived above board and that the sin of one member does not rub off on the Institution.

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Updated 8 Years ago

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