The House of Representatives yesterday summoned the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to appear today just as it maintained that the investigation into the N10bn single window facilitation contract will still be carried out in spite of the immediate suspension of the concession agreement by the minister.
The House ad-hoc committee led by the deputy leader, Hon. Leo Ogor, is investigating alleged irregularities in the concession agreement between the Federal Ministry of Finance and a Single Window System firm.
At the resumed public hearing on the matter yesterday at the National Assembly which was suspended last week, members of the investigative committee also unanimously agreed that Okonjo-Iweala, who was absent at the meeting, should be summoned to the hearing . The lawmakers further cited section 88 and 89 of the 1999 constitution to compel the finance minister to appear today.
The minister had written to the committee to explain that the contract had been suspended pending when investigations by the ministry into the agreement would be concluded. But the lawmakers had insisted that the explanation was not satisfactory enough to put the probe on hold.
The lawmakers had argued that the since the investigation by the House had not been suspended, the minister must honour the invitation of the ad-hoc committee.
The minister of finance's letter dated September 12, 2011 with reference number HMF/FMF/NASS/2011/1 and personally signed by her, stated thus, "I want to apologise for my inability to attend the last public hearing on the above. I would like to inform you that by the leave of Mr. President, I have suspended the Single Window Project in deference to the concerns of the National Assembly.
"Mr. President has asked me to look into the processes that led to the award with a view to addressing the important issues raised by your committee. I will revert to you in due course with the outcome of this enquiry. Thank you for your understanding."
But the lawmakers responded that the investigation would not stop despite the suspension of the concession agreement by the minister.
Ogor said, "On this issue, we are not going back on it so long as it is in the interest of the nation. This exercise is about national interest. At the end of the day."