The House of Representatives had dragged the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, to court over his inability to show proof that its members were beneficiaries of contracts awards fro the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The lawmakers particularly accused the minister of committing perjury while testifying before the committee probing into alleged malfeasance in the finances of the NDDC.
Speaker of the House, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamilaade who made this known, disclosed that he had instructed the Clerk of the House to engage the service of lawyers to initiate the perjury proceedings against Akpabio after he failed to heed to the House request to publish the list of members who got contracts from the NDDC.
“This morning, I asked the Clerk of @HouseNGR to engage the services of legal counsel, and instruct them to initiate a criminal complaint of perjury against the Minister,” Gbajabiamila said in a tweet. “At the same time, we will instruct counsel to explore the possibility of a civil defamation suit.”
Gbajabiamila stated that he will not tolerate anybody to tarnish the image of the House unduly, adding that any action aimed at assassinating the character of the House will be resisted.
Recall that at the hearing on Monday while justifying payments of debt to contractors in breach of the budgetary provision, Akpabio said such contracts were usually split to a point where it comes below the threshold of the minister’s approval notwithstanding the fact that Tunji -Ojo was not a beneficiary of the largese.
“If we close down NDDC in totality, all we will have will be chaos and you will have a lot of, not just militancy, but a lot of insurrections. So it is important that people who have gone to court, people who genuinely did jobs should be paid for those jobs,” Akpabio told the House committee. “So for me, I am not against it because of course who are even the greatest beneficiaries, it is you people (NASS members).”
When grilled by Boma Goodhead (Rivers: APC) and Shehu Koko (Kebbi: APC) at the hearing to name beneficiaries, Akpabio said: “I just told you that I don’t have a record to show that most of the contracts in the NDDC are given out to members of the National Assembly. But you don’t know.”
“I think I must correct myself. I was saying an example of a contract of N10.9 billion in the Chairman’s place. I am saying that contracts are split to a point where it comes below the threshold of the Minister’s approval. The contract is not for the chain but for the chairman’s state (Ondo).”
The minister, who incurred the wrath of the lower legislative chamber, is yet to come forth with the identities of beneficiaries of the contacts in line with the 48-hour ultimatum given to him on Tuesday.