Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, on Thursday, recant of his allegation he made last Tuesday that 60 percent of the contracts from the Niger Delta Development Commission was awarded to members of the National Assembly.
Akpabio’s renunciation was contained in a letter he wrote to the National Assembly and read on the floor of the House of Representatives by the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.
Gbajabiamila, told members that he had received Akpabio’s response, to the demand by the House, after he was given 48hours to name those involved, saying the minister claimed to be referring to the old contracts awarded by the NDDC which had not been paid for and some of which are part of the constituency projects of the lawmakers.
The letter read during plenary on Thursday quoted Akpabio as saying that the only reference he made to 60 percent during his presentation before the NDDC committee on Monday was in response to a question by a member of the committee.
After the lapse of the 48 hour ultimate given to the Minister to name members of the National Assembly that got contracts from the NDDC, Gbajabiamila has instructed lawyers to institute perjury proceedings against Akpabio.
Find below the Speaker’s press release:
STATEMENT BY THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, REP. FEMI GBAJABIAMILA IN RESPONSE TO THE FAILURE BY THE MINSTER OF NIGER DELTA AFFAIRS TO SUBSTANTIATE ALLEGATIONS MADE AGAINST THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY IN RESPECT OF CONTRACTS AWARDED BY THE NIGER DELTA DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION (NDDC).
Last Tuesday I issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs to substantiate his allegation that over 60% (sixty per cent) of contracts awarded by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) went to members of the National Assembly. I said then that the Honourable Minister owed it to himself and the country to provide evidence to support these serious allegations.
The Honourable Minister has failed to respond to my request. Therefore, I must conclude that his statement intended solely to gaslight the nation to avoid accountability for the evident maladministration and malfeasance in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
In my time in the House of Representatives, I have held every leadership position from Minority Whip, through to Minority Leader, Leader of the House and now Speaker.
I recognise that the House has not always lived up to the high expectations of the Nigerian people. As much as we still have a lot to do in that regard, I refuse to sit here in good conscience and allow anyone to assassinate the character of the House in an attempt to deflect accountability for their conduct in office. Such mendacity as was witnessed at the public hearing will not be tolerated from anybody no matter how highly placed.
This morning, I asked the Clerk of the House of Representatives to engage the services of legal counsel, and instruct them to initiate a criminal complaint of perjury against the Minister. At the same time, we will instruct counsel to explore the possibility of a civil defamation suit against the Minister.
The House of Representatives is a public trust placed in our care for the duration of our term in office. We must prove ourselves worthy of this public trust or risk the censure of history. Therefore, we will resist every attempt to undermine this institution, whether such attempts come from within or from outside. This House will live up to the highest expectations of the Nigerian people. This is our commitment, and we will not fail.