- Wednesday, 04 July 2012
- By Admin
The House of Representatives in Abuja on Wednesday emphasized its commitment to expose corruption in the country in spite of the fuel subsidy scandal, and said the bribery tapes exposing the negotiations between a businessman, Mr. Femi Otedola, and a lawmaker, Farouk Lawan, were targeted at diverting attention from the
subsidy probe report.
The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Zakari Mohammed, said this at a news conference in Abuja.
Mohammed said the tapes were “distractions” released to frustrate the implementation of the House fuel subsidy probe panel. He said, “As a House, we have distanced ourselves from the personal matter of an individual. We have asked security agencies to investigate it and do their job.
“However, while that is being done, we believe that the report exposed massive corruption in the oil industry and should be implemented.
“While (Farouk) Lawan is facing his personal issue, let the anti-graft agencies implement the report. This is our position.”
"In spite of the problem that has characterised the fuel subsidy probe, the House will continue to expose corruption.
`` We will never take side with corruption, we as Nigerians and Representatives of the people, will ensure that corrupt people do not go free," the News Agency of Nigeria quoted Mohammed as saying at the briefing.
Mohammed called on relevant agencies of government to implement the report of the House in respect of the fuel subsidy probe.
"As a House, we are urging relevant bodies to expedite action on the report. Subsidy report is sacrosanct and should be implemented to the fullest,’’ he stated.
The legislator said the House was paying a price for standing against corruption.
Mohammed said the House had no issues with Mr. Femi Otedola, adding that there was no time that he was put on trial by the Ethics and Privileges Committee of the House.
“I want to correct that impression, we have no issues with Otedola. At no point in time did Mr. Otedola come on trial with us, he was supposed to come as a witness.’’
Mohammed said the committee was the only committee of the House empowered by law to hold its meeting behind closed-door.
"The committee has the choice to hold its meeting in-camera or in public," he noted.
Meanwhile, the House has clarified that Otedola is not in any way o trial before it.
Mohammed told journalists that “a wrong impression” was being created in the media that Otedola was on trial before the panel.
According to him, the focus of the House is its member, Lawan, whose “credibility has been called to question” in the light of the bribery scandal.
He explained that the Committee on Ethics and Privileges was a disciplinary committee, which handled issues relating to the conduct of lawmakers, adding that Otedola’s role was to assist the committee with information that would help the House to resolve the bribery allegation.
“But, he came and he responded in a way that he felt was his own way of assisting the committee. People are now making it look as if we have turned ourselves into a trial court,” he said.
He added that by the rules of the House, the Committee on Ethics and Privileges sits in camera.
“The House has its rules and it is not an extension of the estate of any person. Nobody is higher than an institution; so, Otedola cannot dictate to us on how to run the parliament,” he said.
Otedola had appeared before the House ethics committee on Tuesday but declined to speak except the session would be covered on TV live.
Chairman of the committee, Gambo Musa, said the businessman had merely laughed at the questions put to him, adding that Otedola was misguided not to answer the committee’s questions.