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Lawangate: Reps Fire Farouk Lawan •Detectives search home •House reverses self, indicts Zenon Oil •Oil marketers vow to expose more committee members
The House of Representatives, on Friday, at its emergency session, axed the embattled Chairman of the House ad- hoc committee that probed the subsidy regime, Hon Farouk Lawan over his alleged involvement in the $3 million bribery allegation levelled against him by the Chairman of Zenon oil and Gas Limited, Mr Femi Otedola.
The House also reversed itself over its earlier decision to leave Zenon, which had $232,975,385.13 written against it and Synopsis Enterprises Limited, which had $51,449,977,47 written against it, of the hook of companies that took Foreign Exchange (FOREX), but failed to use it for the importation of fuel as applied for.
To this end, the House equally suspend Hon Lawan as the Chairman, House Committee on Education as it directed the committee’s Deputy Chairman, Hon. Rose Oko, to take charge of the committee, while Hon John Enoh, a member of the ad hoc committee ,was named as the new chairman of the panel.
The suspension of Hon Lawan was sequel to a motion moved by the Chief Whip of the House, Hon Ishiaka Bawa entitled, “allegation of the $620.000 bribe against the Chairman, Ad hoc committee on the monitoring of fuel subsidy regime, Hon Faroul Lawan and Secretary, Mr Boniface Emenalo.”
There was, however, a mild drama, when Hon. Bawa referred to the Clerk on the committee as Boniface “Elumelu,” instead of Emenalo, but Hon Bawa quickly turned back and apologised to Hon Ndidi Elumelu by bowing to him in a suggestive way that he was sorry for the embarrassment his statement might have caused him.
The House, during the session, mandated the National Assembly Management to investigate and punish Mr Emenalo if found guilty, and equally suspended him as secretary of both the Ad hoc committee and the Committee on Education.
Hon Lawan’s travails began when he was accused by Mr. Otedola of demanding a $3 million bribe and collecting $ 620,000 alongside the Clerk of the committee, Mr Emenalo in the course of the subsidy probe.
Those on the ad hoc committee with Hon Lawan included; Hon Ali Babatunde Ahmad, James Abiodun Faleke, Alphonsus Gerald Irona, Umar Abubakar Sade, Eucharia Azodo, Abbas Tajudeen, and Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Hon John Owan Enoh.
The House, at the session, directed its Committee on Ethics and Privileges to investigate the bribery allegation against Hon Lawan and report back within two weeks, as well as “support and encourage the investigations already being undertaken by the relevant security and anti corruption agencies”.
On its resolution on subsidy regime, the House, urged “President Goodluck Jonathan and all security and anti corruption agencies to proceed with the implementation of the House resolution on the fuel subsidy regime investigation report already communicated to them.”
It added, “all relevant standing committees with jurisdictions on the Petroleum Sector, including the Committee on Legislative Compliance, to monitor and ensure full implementation of the resolutions on the fuel subsidy regime report and report back to the House.”
The Minority Whip of the House, Hon Samson Osagie, who also spoke in support of the motion, proposed that the House should pass a vote of confidence on the Speaker, Hon Aminu Tambuwal and the proposal received resounding applause and standing ovation from members.
Consequently, Hon. Osagie, explained that the House, under the leadership of Hon. Tambuwal, had lived up to expectations in the last one year, stressing that, “if a member of the House commits an offence, it is not the National Assembly that committed that offence.”
He charged the members “to try as much as possible to live above board,” and regretted the crisis he said had engulfed Hon Lawan, stressing that “for us in the House, we will refuse to be blackmailed.”
However, Hon. Bawa had, in his motion, asked the House to refer the ad hoc committee recommendation on the two oil companies to the committee of the whole for further legislative action.
Immediately the motion was passed, the Speaker, Hon Aminu Tambuwal stepped aside to allow his Deputy Speaker, Hon Emeka Ihedioha, who is statutorily bound to chair the Committee of the Whole, stepped in.
At the committee of the whole session, the recommendations were quickly considered that the decision of the House excluding the two companies should be rescinded.
The Chairman, House Committee on Rules and Business, Hon. Albert Sam-Tsokwa, who moved that the report of the committee of the Whole should be considered said, “that this House considered the report of the Committee of the Whole on the Monitoring of Fuel Subsidy Regime and approved the recommendation; that marketers, who obtained FOREX, but did not impot petroleum products, should be referred to the relevant anti-corruption agencies with a view to verifying what they used the FOREX for.”
The companies’ names were deleted on April 24, particularly recommendation 29 of the committee’s report, in which the names were among 15 companies listed by the panel alleged to have obtained forex, but failed to import petroleum products from 2010 to 2011.
But during the consideration of the report, Hon Lawan had informed the House that their names should be removed from the list, claiming that they were listed in error.
No Sacred Cow— Tambuwal
In his speech at the session, Hon Tambuwal explained that the Special Session of Plenary was in pursuant to Order 5(18)(2) of the Standing Rules of the House, noting that “the objective of the Session, which you have just accomplished, is to deliberate on grave allegation of bribery brought against a member of this hallowed chambers. Hon. Farouk Lawal, by Mr. Femi Otedola, an oil marketer, in connection with the work of the Ad-Hoc Committee on the Monitoring of Fuel Subsidy Regime empanelled by the House for that purpose.”
According to him, “in accordance with our Legislative Agenda, we must continue to be, not only sensitive to the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians, but also proactive on all matters of urgent national importance. Therefore, while I apologise for the inconveniences caused to members by this sudden recall from the recess, I trust we all appreciate that this is a call to important civic duty for our dear country”.
He maintained that the House would not reneged in its avowed “probity, accountability and transparency in the conduct of government business as a cardinal Legislative Agenda. We advise ourselves never to expect that it will be an easy task. Accordingly, I have had cause to occasionally sound a note of warning and reminder that our constitutional task is inescapably hazardous requiring total commitment, diligence, transparency; determination and sacrifice.”
He added, “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 emphasised 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 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, overreaches 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, a 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.”
On the bribery allegation, he maintained, “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.”
‘No Going Back on Subsidy Report’
He, however, reiterated that the resolutions of the House over the fuel subsidy regime remained valid despite the recent controversy, saying that, “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 cannot negate the conclusions of the whole House.”
The speaker equally reaffirmed that his leadership had not been compromised and would never compromise on its stand against corruption, noting that “the credibility of that report, therefore, remains inviolable, and we stand by it.”
He urged the executive arm of government to match words with action in the implementation of the House resolutions.
To this end, he called on the members to remain firm, resolute and committed to the execution of their constitutional mandate whatever the hazards.
He stressed, “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.”
He, however, appealed to Nigerians for patience and understanding, assuring them of the House sincerity to deliver on its promise to them.Share
written by ALBETO, June 16, 2012
written by folashade, June 16, 2012
written by Ignatius Muotoh, June 16, 2012
written by Rasheed Abimbola Ahmed, June 17, 2012