20 December 2012

Nigeria: House Threatens to Arrest Odimegwu

The House of Representatives Committee on Federal Character yesterday threatened to issue a warrant of arrest on the Chairman, National Population Commission (NPC), Dr Festus Odimegwu, over his alleged refusal to honour earlier parliamentary summons.

The threat was sequel to the absence of Odimegwu at the committee's meeting on December 18, 2012.

Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Ahmed Idris, said that the committee had invited Odimegwu via a letter marked NASS/7HR/CT.33/23/130 dated December 4, 2012 to appear before the committee on December 6, 2012 to defend the nominal roll submitted to the committee and to correct the imbalances in the manpower distribution in the current recruitment exercise at the NPC.

Idris said that contrary to expectations, Odimegwu only sent the Director Admin and the Legal Adviser to inform the Committee that he was at the Villa.

"The Committee resolved and wrote to the Commission in a letter NASS/7HR/CT.33/28/14 dated December 7, suspending the ongoing recruitment exercises

"The committee again re-invited the Chairman, Director Administration and Legal NASS/7HR/CT.33/23/132 dated 10th December, 2012 in which he refused to honor and there was no response.

"The committee warned and re-invited the Chairman in a letter NASS/7HR/CT.33/23/135 dated 13th December, 2012 which he also failed to honor.

"Despite all the communication including a letter asking him to suspend the recruitment exercise, he went ahead to issue appointment letters without following due process which violate Federal Characters Principles," Ahmed said.

Ahmed said that in view of the continued refusal of Odimegwu to appear before the committee, the committee had no choice but to nullifies all the recruitment exercises.

He said that failure to respect the parliament would force the committee to invoke the 3rd Schedule, C8 (1) C of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

The section empowers the parliament to "take such legal measures, including the prosecution of the head or staff of any ministry or government body or agency which fails to comply with any federal character principle or formula prescribed or adopted by the commission and (d) carry out such other functions as may be conferred upon it by an Act of the National Assembly."

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