Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: Reps Uneasy Over Insecurity, Fraud in Govt

With worsening national security, the U.S.$620,000 bribery tale and an inquest into the insurance of government assets and property (chiefly the NNPC) topping the list of developments last week in the House of Representatives, ADESUWA TSAN and EDEGBE ODEMWINGIE report on the listed developments among other noteworthy resolutions.

In a move by federal lawmakers to douse ethnic tensions, the House of Representatives on Thursday stayed debates on the upsurge of deadly attacks that have rocked the Plateau state capital, Jos leaving in its wake many deaths, maimed scores and displaced thousands.

"This is a matter that requires caution," the deputy speaker, Emeka Ihedioha who presided over Thursday's plenary cautioned after a motion on the Jos crisis was brought before the Lower House by Representative Simon Davou Mwadkwon.

Same day, the lower House directed its clerk, Sani Omolori to communicate to President Goodluck Jonathan the expiration of the State of Emergency the president declared in some parts of northern Nigeria on January 1, 2012.

The Lower House Minority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila drew the attention of federal lawmakers to six months allowed by the Nigerian 1999 Constitution (as amended) on declaration of state of emergencies.

Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Plateau, Niger, Yobe and parts of Borno, plagued by a violent Islamist insurgency, and ordered shut the borders with Cameroon, Chad and Niger in the North-East. This came nearly a week after the radical sect, Boko Haram, set off a series of bombs across Nigeria on Christmas Day, including one at a church that killed at least 37 people and wounded 57, Jonathan told a state television that the measures would aim to restore security in troubled parts of Nigeria's north.

Gbajabiamila said until Jonathan applies to the National Assembly seeking an extension of the state of emergency, by constitutional provisions, the proclamation elapsed after six months.

The Minority Leader suggested a possible "oversight" on the part of the Executive, while insisting on the necessity to remind that arm of government.

Ruling on the matter, Ihedioha, asked the Lower House Clerk to "administratively communicate the matter to Mr President".

Back to the Jos crisis, following consultation with principal officers, Ihedioha said the House leadership was not comfortable allowing debates on the crisis that has pitted principally the Berom ethnic group with the Hausa/Fulani population in deadly attacks and reprisals over contentious ethnic and "indigenship" status of the latter in the state.

"It is not the wish of the leadership to allow the House debate the matter. We have taken note and appropriate action will be taken on it", Ihedioha ruled on the motion.

Federal lawmakers however okayed five resolutions contained in motion.

The resolutions include a condemnation of the barbaric killing of Innocent people and the burning down of villages and destruction of crops on farmlands and appeal to President Goodluck Jonathan to reappraise the security challenges in Plateau State by granting the state governor more powers and resources to enable the governor, Jonah Jang, to fully take charge of the security of lives and properties with the state.

Reps Uncover $329.4m Insurance Racket In NNPC

...Query Oil Marketers Qualification For PEF

On Tuesday, the Lower House standing Committee on Finance summoned the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in relation to over $329.4 million insurance premium and claims allegedly inflated by some insurance companies contracted to insure the state-run corporation.

The Finance Committee is also probing unpaid insurance claims worth $12 million due to the Corporation between 2007 to 2011.

The Abdulmumin Jubrin led Finance committee issued the summons during the second day of the ongoing investigative public hearing on the insurance of government assets and property.

Also, the Dakuku Peterside led Lower House Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) queried the selection criteria for oil marketers participating in the federal government's Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF) -- a key component of the now tainted fuel subsidy programme.

At the public inquest into the activities of the Petroleum Equalization Fund, Peterside said there was a need to review the criteria for participation in the fund in view of apparent lack of capacity displayed by many oil marketers interrogated by the Committee.

PEF is a scheduled parastatal of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources established mainly to administer uniform prices of petroleum products throughout the country.

Peterside expressed outrage over the failure of summoned oil marketers to provide the Committee with necessary documents relating to bridging claims, an action he said amounted to defrauding Nigerian of its revenue.

"It is unfortunate that we do not take ourselves seriously in this country, if not, how can you (referring to summoned oil marketer) claim not to have benefited from the PEF without adequate supporting documents?

"Contrary to documents before us, most you claimed not have received bridging claims from PEF rather what most of you are telling us is that you have been remitting your dues as prescribed by the Petroleum Product Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) but where are the documents to back your assertions?" Peterside queried.

Borno Rep Empowers Constituents With 22 Cars

As part of activities marking one year in office, the only female member of the House of Representatives from Borno state, Hon Ka'amuna Ibrahim Khadi brought smiles to her constituents in Jere Local Government Area when she distributed twenty-two cars and other materials aimed at driving self employment.

The poverty alleviation items presented by Khadi who is also the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Marine Transport comprised of 22 Volkswagen Golf cars, 300 units of sewing machines, 300 spaghetti-making machines, 300 grinding machines and 300 water-pumping machines.

Speaking while presenting the materials to select members of her constituency at Alau-Ngiuriri village of Jere council, Khadi of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) said her gift was not in fulfilment of any promise, but her special way of saying thank you for the support extended to her by her constituents as well as part of her dream to ensure both men and women are empowered economically.

"We intend to do this for my constituents in every three months until we have sufficiently touched the lives of my loyal and supportive constituents. I did not make any promise to them during my campaigns because I hate promises. But what Allah has allowed us to do today is better than empty promises", she said.

Khadi said she intends to pursue legislation that will promote the major occupation of her constituents, which is farming with emphasis on rice production.

$620,000 Bribe: Jagaba Threatens To Sue

Addressing a press conference on the latest bribery tale rocking the Lower House, Federal lawmaker, Adams Jagaba, accused of being in possession of the $620,000 bribe, on Thursday said his accuser, Farouk Lawan, acted in "confusion" and as an "afterthought."

Jagaba, Chairman, House Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes, formally denied involvement in the collection of $620,000 bribe allegedly handed over to him by Lawan, former chairman of ad hoc committee that investigated the fuel subsidy regime.

The $620,000 was to serve as an advanced payment for a $3million bribe over the indictment of Femi Otedola's firm, Zenon, named in federal fuel subsidy abuse.

"Hon Farouk Lawan should stop this blackmail forthwith or else, I will have no option than take the appropriate legal action against him and to seek compensation befitting my status. Enough is enough!" Jagaba said in a prepared statement.

Jagaba said he first saw the letter purportedly sent to him on the pages of a newspaper (LEADERSHIP).

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