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- Category: Politics
- Published on Tuesday, 22 June 2010 05:27
- Written by Punch
- Hits: 2063
“I think most Nigerians have been very concerned because there have been scandals upon scandals in that House. And that is the bastion of democracy and the hope of the common man,” she said.
She spoke when a group of lawmakers, Progressive-Minded Legislators, submitted a petition to the anti-graft agency at its headquarters in Abuja.
The group, which is led by Mr. Dino Melaye, has been calling for the resignation of the Speaker of the House, Mr. Dimeji Bankole, over alleged corrupt practices.
One of the demands contained in the petition is for the EFCC to investigate how Bankole and the Body of Principal Officers allegedly spent N9bn out of the N11bn budgeted as the capital vote of the House between 2008 and 2009.
Waziri, while receiving the document from the group, recalled that from the certificate forgery involving a former speaker, Alhaji Salisu Buhari in 1999, to the latest N9bn allegation, it had been “scandals upon scandals.”
She stated that the commission would commence investigation into the matter immediately.
She said, ”We have to salvage our nation. For the National Assembly, the House of Representatives, in particular, I have been worried.
”All the citizens who trusted you and voted you into that House feel that you are there to protect their interests.
“But when we have issues all the time starting from the era of Buhari, you remember the certificate forgery scam, and now the car scam.
“I mean it is something that is worrisome. And I think with this step you have taken and the action that will follow, it is obvious that there is need to sanitise the House of Representatives and make it like any other House anywhere in the World.”
She said that on the strength of newspaper publications of the alleged scam, the EFCC had commenced the process of setting up a committee of “diligent, loyal and hard-working” officers to look into the matter.
Waziri said, “The law, as we say, is no respecter of person. Nobody is above the laws of the land; everybody is equal before the law. And this is what we have been preaching and this is what we have been trying to do.
“When you talk of the body of principal officers, we will swing into action and you will see what we are doing. I am particularly happy when people discover that something is wrong, economic crimes-wise, and they take it upon themselves to expose and to bring it to our attention.
“We have been crying out loud that fighting corruption and economic crimes is not the exclusive preserve of the EFCC and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other- Related Offences Commission. It is everybody’s fight and it is every Nigerian’s fight.
“This is our country as you stated, we don’t have any other country; we have just Nigeria. There is no place like home. Even those of you that have gone out, you can compare and see that home is home and that there is no place like home.
“We are pained when our country is being run down as a result of massive corruption. I am in a position to say this because as I sit here, I know what goes on and I feel so much pain.”
She explained that other unresolved scandals such as Siemens, Halliburton and Wilbros had painted the country in bad light.
Melaye had told the EFCC chairman that contrary to the ”blackmail,” the PML was out to sanitise the House by insisting that its affairs should be conducted transparently.
He said, ”If we have oversight functions over MDAs (ministries, agencies and departments), then we need to do same for ourselves.
”Some of us have decided that in the face of tyranny, in the face of very stiff opposition, we have taken the battle line to build a new Nigeria where justice, equity and democratic norms will be the order of the day.”
He accused a 10-member Body of Principal Officers of the House led by Bankole of alleged contract inflation, saying that the speaker had been living an ostentatious lifestyle.
He recalled how his past motions on the floor of the House led to the revocation of the sale of Delta Steel, the imposition of fine on Multi-choice and the cancellation of the N65bn runway contract at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja.
The lawmaker from Kogi State said that recent developments in the House portrayed the country as an entity suffering from “dreadful congenital abnormality.”
He said, “He who seeks equity must come with clean hands. If the House is questioning Ministries, Departments and Agencies through oversight functions, we need to oversight (sic) ourselves so that the public can have confidence in us.
“Out of the N11bn that was allocated to the House in 2008/2009 budgets for capital projects, N2bn was returned to the treasury. But we are asking the House officers to account for how they spent N9bn.
“We have documents to prove that some items approved by the Body of Principal officers, of whom the Speaker is the chairman, were inflated.
“We are ready to lay down our lives for this. We fought for this democracy. We cannot sit here and watch the National Assembly corrupted. We will do everything to protect this democracy. Let me make it clear that we are not fighting Bankole, what we are fighting is corruption.”
Melaye was in company with Messrs Anass Abbah, Bitrus Kaze, Independence Ogunnewe, Austin Nwachukwu and Solomon Ahwinahwi.
Reacting to the comments of the EFCC boss, the House through its spokesman, Mr. Eseme Eyiboh, said that it welcomed the commission‘s interest in the crisis in the House.
“The House of Representatives appreciates the interest of the EFFC chairman in requesting the House to explore available avenues to collaborate with it to thin down avenues of graft,” Eyiboh said in a statement.
He added, ”It is on record that the present House is known for its vigour and commitment to legislative engagements premised on transparency and rule of law.
”These avenues are exercised in our rules‘ book and through various committees. We, therefore, request all agencies of government to avail themselves of this synergy with the House.”
As at 9.31pm on Monday, Bankole, a lawmaker from Ogun State, was meeting with the South-West caucus in the House. It was learnt that the meeting’s agenda was on the ongoing crisis in the House which would resume today after a two week recess.