• Probe Orubebe over alleged graft, code of conduct breach
• Threaten to arrest Okonjo-Iweala over police pension
FOR canvassing a reduction in the number of lawmakers in the National Assembly, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, provoked the ire of the House of Representatives yesterday.
The House also directed two of its standing committees to jointly investigate allegations of corrupt practices, abuse of office and breach of code of conduct against the Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Godsday Orubebe.
The lawmakers decried the failure of the Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to issue a directive for the cash backing of the N300 billion which she announced a month ago had been released to Ministries, Departments and agencies (MDAs).
Besides, the House of Representatives’ Committee on Pensions Thursday threatened to issue an arrest warrant on Okonjo-Iweala, for her failure to honour invitations to meetings to discuss issues relating to the takeover of police pensions.
The lawmakers described Sanusi’s policies and suggestions as ‘hypocritical and unrealistic’ adding that Sanusi “is an economist with bias in political turbulence.”
At a retreat on capital market held in Warri, Delta State last Monday, Sanusi also suggested a 50 per cent reduction in the Federal Government’s work force.
But at a press conference at the National Assembly, Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Victor Ogene, said Sanusi enjoyed controversies and never practised what he preached.
According to him, the recommendation for the sacking of 50 per cent of the civil servants and reduction in the number of National Assembly members is in conflict with what Sanusi has done at the CBN.
Ogene said that Sanusi employed over 1,000 workers, pointing out that this raised CBN workers’ strength to 6,015 from a former workers’ strength of 5,023.
“Sanusi should have healed himself first, what he preaches in the public is inconsistent with what he does at CBN. He is an economist with bias in political turbulence,” Ogene stated.
Focusing specifically on claims by the CBN governor that the country does not need 109 senators and 360 House of Representatives members because they drain the national purse, the House Deputy Spokesman said that Sanusi was merely diverting the public’s attention from the real issue posing a threat to the economy.
Ogene stated that the CBN’s yearly budget doubled the budget of the whole National Assembly in 2011.
He stated: “Where the National Assembly budget is N150 billion, CBN spent N300 billion last year.”
Ogene said that it was regrettable that Sanusi would be campaigning for a job reduction when the nation was lamenting that millions of its youths were unemployed.
The House of Representatives’ direction to two of its standing committees to jointly investigate allegations of corrupt practices, abuse of office and breach of code of conduct against Orubebe was sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored to the House by Kehinde Oluwasegun (Ogun State).
When asked to defend his motion, Oluwasegun alleged that some of the misdeeds of Orubebe included:
• the Hon. Minister has paid for so many phantom projects;
• the Hon. Minister is presently resident in a house at Mabushi District Abuja built and handed over to him by SETRACO, a construction company that doubles as his crony.
“I would end this debate by urging members of this august assembly to roundly support this motion mandating our committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes to investigate these very weighty allegations and make appropriate recommendations within 21 days.”
But the Deputy Speaker of the House, Emeka Ihedioha, who presided over yesterday’s session prevented debate on the matter and said that any debate on it would amount to pre-judgment.
Details of the allegations as contained in the motion read in parts: “The Hon. Minister’s failure to declare the said house in his assets declaration with Code of Conduct Bureau, a case of perjury if established.
“The Hon. Minister’s financial escapades and liaisons in Dubai and other corruption shelters overseas.”
Oluwasegun noted: “These weighty allegations were at first peremptorily rubbished and dismissed by the Hon. Minister as handiwork of his detractors and some mischief makers who were out for extortion. Since then, he has unfortunately laboured hard in the media to bury these revelations.
“But any time he comes up with his purported facts, they have been further proven to be mere tissues of lies by superior disclosure of more facts by the anti-corruption outfits.
“For instance, he posited that he was a sitting tenant at his Mabushi multi-billion naira home but searches from the Abuja Geographic and Information Services prove beyond reasonable doubt that the property is not only his but it is in his name.
“This single irrefutable fact establishes beyond reasonable doubt that the Hon. Minister refused to declare the said house in his assets declaration form which he made on oath.
“What is baffling Mr. Speaker is not allegation of corruption against the Hon. Minister but the fact that neither EFCC nor ICPC has deemed it fit to wade in.
“When it affected our members even on trumped up charges, we shielded none. It would amount to a great travesty if we do not do justice or ensure that justice is done in this matter. We cannot allow anti-corruption outfits to take our place as the legitimate voice of our over oppressed people.”
The House of Representatives’ Committee on Pensions observed that due to the takeover of the police pension, former Inspectors-General of Police Sunday Adewusi, Sunday Ehindero, DIG Akeredolu and several other police pensioners were yet to be paid.
The chairman of the committee, Ibrahim Bawa Kamba, who read the decision of the committee noted that “it is obvious that the minister was not ready to appear before the committee to explain why her ministry took over the police pension office without regard to the Pension Reform Act and oversight responsibility of the committee.
“We have been inviting the minister of finance over the problems of police pension. She has been holding the police pension and several police pensioners have died due to non- attendance despite the fact that the National Assembly appropriated money in the 2012 fiscal year.”
Kamba continued: “Following her refusal, the committee is going to issue a warrant of arrest on the minister if she fails to attend the next meeting. We are going to give her the last opportunity. What she is doing is bad.
“She has no right to neglect the call to appear before the committee; we are not happy about this development, many former IGs have not been paid, Sunday Ehindero and Sunday Adewusi and DIG Akeredolu have not been listed due to the takeover by the minister.
“We want to make it clear to Nigerians; we hate playing with people’s lives. We have received some petitions from the police that many police pensioners are not paid. We were bombarded with a series of complaints. Severally we have been writing to hear from the minister but she refused to heed our calls.”
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