15th June, 2012
The House of Representatives this morning moved swiftly to distance itself from the much publicised $620,000 bribery scandal rocking the nation by suspending the chairman of the ad-hoc committee on fuel subsidy probe, Farouk Lawan and the Secretary of the committee, Boniface Emenalo.
After suspending them, the House mandated its Committee on Ethics and Privileges to investigate allegation against Lawan that he collected $500,000 from petroleum marketer, Femi Otedola, in order to exonerate his companies of any illegality in the subsidy regime.
The House also directed the management committee of the National Assembly to probe allegation made against Emenalo that he collected $120,000 from the businessman.
To convince Nigerians that they were solidly behind the House leadership, members passed a vote of confidence in the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal.
The motion to suspend the principal actors in the bribe saga was moved by the Chief Whip of the House, Ishiaka Mohammed Bawa.
The vote of confidence in Tambuwal’s leadership was proposed by Samsom Osagie and adopted by all.
In his motion, Bawa sought the resolution of the House to remove Lawan and Emenalo as the Chairman and Secretary of the ad-hoc committee on fuel subsidy probe; rescind the resolution of the House of Tuesday, 24 April, 2012 on the recommendation (XXIX), items (5) and (6) of the ad-hoc committee’s report to delete, Synopsis Enterprises Ltd and Zenon Petroleum & Gas Ltd from the list of “those companies which obtained forex but did not import petroleum products,” that were to be referred to the relevant anti-corruption agencies with a view to verifying what they used the FOREX for.”
Bawa also sought the resolution of the House to refer the ad-hoc committee’s recommendation on the two companies to the committee of the whole House for further legislative action; refer the bribery allegation to the Ethics and Privileges Committee to thoroughly investigate the allegations and report back to the House within two weeks upon resumption from the current recess of the House as well as support and encourage the investigations already being undertaken by the relevant security and anti-corruption agencies.
Bawa further sought the resolution of the House to urge the President and all the security and anti-graft agencies to proceed with the implementation of the House resolutions on the fuel subsidy regime investigation report already communicated to them and also mandate all relevant standing committees with jurisdiction on the petroleum sector, including the committee on legislative compliance, to monitor and ensure full implementation of the resolutions on the fuel subsidy regime and report back to the House.
While the motions were unanimously adopted by members, the House further went into a Committee of the whole House where they rescinded the removal of Zenon Oil and Gas Ltd as well as Synopsis Enterprises from the list of earlier indicted marketers who collected Forex and refused to import petroleum products.
They agreed that the two companies should be investigated with others earlier indicted.
In his remarks concerning the crisis, Speaker Tambuwal told his colleagues that the functions of the legislature were derived by the powers given it by the constitution. He reiterated that there shall be no sacred cows in the performance of such duties.
He stressed that the performance of the House in the last one year had rekindled the confidence of Nigerians in the legislature, adding that, “we shall insist on probity and fairness of our members in the performance of their duties.”
Tambuwal said though the allegations were preposterous, “the House rejects in totality that the scandal has eroded the integrity of the report.
“The report remains valid despite this recent controversy. We must learn to separate institutions from individuals.”
He tasked the executive arm to continue with action on the report.
—Desmond Utomwen/Abuja & Eromosele Ebhomele