The House of Representatives has called upon the Niger Delta Affairs Minister Godswill Akpabio, to within 48 hours, provide the names of the National Assembly members whom he accused on Monday of being beneficiaries of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) contracts.
Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila directed the Clerk of the House, Patrick Giwa, to ensure that Akpabio complied with the directive, showing how much gravity the allegation holds.
Confessing before the House committee probing alleged financial recklessness in the NDDC, Akpabio said: “We have records to show that most of the contracts of NDDC are given to members of the National Assembly, but you don’t know about it.”
However, ruling on a matter of privileges brought by the Minority Leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu, during Tuesday’s plenary, Gbajabiamila warned that the minister would face the “full weight of the law”, if he failed to comply with the order.
Although his initial reaction was to hold Akpabio’s allegations like a pinch of salt, however, he realized it (allegation) impinged on the integrity of the House, he said.
He said the minister, a senator in the 8th National Assembly and a former Akwa Ibom State State governor, owed it a duty to himself, the House Committee on Niger Delta, the people of Niger Delta as well as other Nigerians, to publish the names of the lawmakers who got NDDC .
The speaker added that the detailed names of their companies, the contract they got and others, should be published by Akpabio, else he would face the wrath of the law.
The Speaker, who said he believed that the minister only came before the probe panel to play games and cause distraction for the House, insisted that the investigation must be concluded.
He said: “When the minister was making his presentation, I had a good laugh, but I soon realized that it was not funny. The oldest joke in the books is to throw a joke or throw in things to distract issues. The media helped him to amplify what we all know is not true, that 60 per cent of contracts in NDDC went to members of the National Assembly.
“It is a distraction to the National Assembly and members of this House and I will take the allegations very serious.
“I will give the minister between 24 and 48 hours to publish the names, contracts so awarded and the place. Unveil the company the contracts were give8n to, especially members of the 9th Assembly, failure which we will be forced to bring the full weight of the law.
“Every particular of the projects, details of members of the 9th Assembly who got the contract. It is important that we bring this to bear.
“The minister owes it a duty to himself, the Niger Delta people and Nigerians to publish the names of details of those got the contracts.
“I believe that the minister came to play games. The House cannot subject itself to blackmail. We cannot sit back and watch an agency of government throw allegations against the House.
“Allegations have also been made against the Chairman of the Committee (Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo), without cogent evidence to back up the claims.
“We had to ask him (Tunji-Ojo) to recuse himself in order to give those invited the confidence to testify before the committee. It is also instructive to state that the minister told the committee yesterday (Monday) that the chairman never got a contract from the NDDC.”
The Speaker also detailed on reports yesterday that he said the NDDC Acting Managing Director Kemebradikumo Pondei, should not appear before the investigative committee again, explaining that the committee reserved the right to recall Pondei to give further evidence if they deem it necessary.