22 June 2012

Nigeria: House of Representatives Insists on Jonathan, Blasts Otedola

Abuja — THE House of Representatives, yesterday, insisted that President Goodluck Jonathan must honour the chamber's invitation for the purpose of throwing more light on the security situation in the country.

Also sacked House of Representatives ad hoc comittee chairman on petroleum subsidy regime, Rep. Farouk Lawan, who is facing Police investigations for alleged $620,000 bribe, yesterday, went spiritual.

In a briefing on Thursday, Rep Zakari Mohammed said, the House is constitutionally empowered to invite Mr President "after all he had also invited us in the past."

Lawan in an interview said that his travails were endorsed by God and that at the end of the investigation he would be vindicated.

Lawan was accused by the chairman of Zenon Oil and Gas Ltd, Mr Femi Otedola of collecting $620,000 of the $3m he demanded to have his firm exonerated from the subsidy sleaze. Police have so far recovered $10,000 of the bribe money while he is expected to produce the remaining $610,000 before the end of the week.

Appearing at the chamber for the first time since his bribery allegation began two weeks ago, Lawan declared that God decided to allow him go through the current trial for some reasons. He did not state the reasons. The lawmaker who was looking visibly embattled told newsmen who besieged him at the end of the plenary session that he had no qualms with the decision of the House to shove him aside as the Chairman of Education committee and that of the ad hoc committee.

He said "I think it is important to note that I have been a member of the House of Representatives for the past 13 years, of course together with several other colleagues of mine past and present and we have done so much to build the House of Representatives. It means that I should enjoy the respect and confidence of Nigerians.

"Whatever decision is taken by the House, I believe is meant to ensure the credibility of the institution because as members, we must at all times recognize that the institution is bigger than each and everyone of us. It is an institution that belongs to this country, that Nigerians look up to for legislation, oversight responsibilities and for responsive representation.

"It is an institution that must continue to give hope and confidence to the Nigerian people. So, whenever any issue arises to question any particular member's standing, it is important to recognize that the institution itself is bigger than anyone of us."

Meanwhile the House has said that Otedola is as guilty as Lawan in the bribery scandal. Reacting to a statement credited to Otedola that last week's emergency session by the House where it asked anti-graft agencies to investigate his firm's forex transaction was a celebration of corruption, spokesman of the House Hon Zakari Mohammed, argued that such comment from businessman was unfortunate and irresponsible.

On the invitation of President Goodluck Jonathan over worsening insecurity in the country, Zakari submitted that contrary to claims in some quarters that the invitation was unconstitutional the House acted within its powers. He said: "the constitution gives the House the power to invite anybody if we are conducting any investigation".

He explained that the silence on the date the President should appear before the lawmakers was to allow President Jonathan choose a date that would be convenient to him.

It would be recalled that the House had on Tuesday via a House resolution invited the president to come and explain the security situation in Nigeria.

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