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NDDC: Reps to sue Akpabio for perjury

House of Representatives on Thursday resolved to drag the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, to court over his claim that members of the National Assembly are the major beneficiaries of contracts awarded by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Akpabio had made the allegation at his appearance before the House Committee on NDDC.

But, the Lawmakers however, at its plenary on Tuesday, challenged the minister to publish the names of the beneficiaries.

At the resumption of plenary on Thursday, Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, said the House will take legal action through civil proceedings against Akpabio for his allegations against members of the House which he failed to substantiate.

The House of Representatives had, last Tuesday, asked Akpabio, to publish, within 48 hours, members of the 9th National Assembly who contracts from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Ruling on a matter of privileges brought by Minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila said the Minister, who alleged 60 percent of contracts from the NDDC were given to members of the National Assembly, should publish the benefiting lawmakers, especially members of the 9th Assembly.

He further said the names of their companies and the contracts they got should be published or face the wrath of the House.

Gbajabiamila said the Minister owes it a duty to himself, the House Committee on Niger Delta, the people of Niger Delta and Nigerians to publish the names.

Gbajabiamila said, “Last Tuesday I issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs to substantiate his allegation that over 60% (sixty per cent) of contracts awarded by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) went to members of the National Assembly. I said then that the Honourable Minister owed it to himself and the country to provide evidence to support these serious allegations.

“The Honourable Minister has failed to respond to my request. Therefore, I must conclude that his statement intended solely to gaslight the nation to avoid accountability for the evident maladministration and malfeasance in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

“In my time in the House of Representatives, I have held every leadership position from Minority Whip, through to Minority Leader, Leader of the House (Majority Leader) and now Speaker. I recognise that the House has not always lived up to the high expectations of the Nigerian people. As much as we still have a lot to do in that regard, I refuse to sit here in good conscience and allow anyone to assassinate the character of the House in an attempt to deflect accountability for their conduct in office. Such mendacity as was witnessed at the public hearing will not be tolerated from anybody no matter how highly placed.

“This morning, I asked the Clerk of the House of Representatives to engage the services of legal counsel, and instruct them to initiate a criminal complaint of perjury against the Minister. At the same time, we will instruct counsel to explore the possibility of a civil defamation suit against the Minister.

“The House of Representatives is a public trust placed in our care for the duration of our term in office. We must prove ourselves worthy of this public trust or risk the censure of history.

“Therefore, we will resist every attempt to undermine this institution, whether such attempts come from within or from outside. This House will live up to the highest expectations of the Nigerian people. This is our commitment, and we will not fail.”

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