Reps leader named in rural electrification scam

Accusing fingers are pointing to a principal officer of the National Assembly that a sibling of his was a major beneficiary of the controversial N6 billion rural electrification projects. And the consequent question is: What did the principal officer know of it?

This is coming as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) confirmed yesterday that the three House of Representatives members being sought with regards to the raging rural electrification projects have turned themselves in for questioning. They are the Chairman of the House Committee on Power, Ndudi Elumelu; his deputy, Ahmed Jibo; and the Chairman of the House Committee on Rural Development, Paulinus Igwe.

EFCC’s Head of Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Babafemi, confirmed on phone yesterday that the lawmakers were with the commission.

The name of the said principal officer allegedly popped up when one of the three members of the House of Representatives who was being sought by the EFCC moved to expose everyone involved in the alleged scandal.

A senior official of the EFCC said yesterday that the commission had got the information but was not paying attention to it because, in his words, “it is a side talk and the person who is said to be alleging against the principal officer has not put it in writing.”

But Babafemi said the EFCC was not aware of the mention of the name of any principal officer.

But another source countered him: “What do you expect? A man is making an allegation and has not put it in writing and you want the EFCC to say it is aware; let him come out and put it in writing, and the world will see what the commission will do.”

In the National Assembly, another principal officer confirmed that he was aware that the name of one of his colleagues had been associated with the raging scandal, adding that “it is difficult to rope him in because it is members of his family that were said to have benefited from solar-based electrification projects.”

Indeed, The Guardian learnt that companies owned by the principal officer’s family members have already been linked to the scam.

Other lawmakers wondered why the alleged sins of family members should be blamed on the federal lawmaker.

The new twist is coming amidst indications that Senator Nicholas Ugbane and top officials of the Ministry of Power will be taken to court before Thursday. “I can assure you that the matter will be taken to court on or before Thursday. We have done our bit in the commission and the courts are taking over fully this week,” an insider said.

The latest developments are coming even as one of those being held by the EFCC is insisting that the figure of N6 billion is not a true reflection of the actual amount involved.

“He is saying that it is N1.62 billion and not N6 billion as the media has been reporting,” a source said.

But after last week’s decision by the Upper House to stay aloof on the predicament of one of its own, there were indications that the position of the lawmakers may change when the House sits this week.

Last Thursday, the Senate sat for hours to discuss the fate of Senator Ugbane.

It was gathered that the Senate would seek tangible evidence of misdeeds found against the lawmaker.

from Guardian