The Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, on Thursday, denied accusing members of the National Assembly of collecting 60 percent of the contracts awarded by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
This was contained in a letter read on the floor of the House of Representatives during plenary by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila.
The former lawmaker said the only reference he made to 60 percent during his presentation before the NDDC committee a few days ago was in response to a question by a member of the committee.
The former Governor of Akwa Ibom State explained in the letter that the member had sought to know whether a Medical Director can serve as an Executive Director, Project.
According to him, his response was that since 50 to 60 percent of NDDC contracts were medical-related, there was nothing wrong in a Medical Director serving in that capacity.
The House of Representatives had earlier on Thursday taken a decision to drag Akpabio before a Court of law for making indicting comment against it.
While appearing before the House Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) probing the alleged financial recklessness on Monday, Akpabio had told the Committee that about 60% of total contracts at the NDDC were awarded to members of the National Assembly.
Irked by the comment, the lawmakers passed a resolution the next day, giving Akpabio 48 hours to make public, the names and details of such lawmakers who were beneficiaries of the contacts.
At the expiration of the 48-hour ultimatum, Speaker of the House, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, in his opening speech at the plenary, ordered that the Minister be sued for making such “indicting” comment, which he has failed to substantiate.
Gbajabiamila recalled issuing a 48-hour ultimatum to Akpabio to substantiate his allegation that over 60 percent 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 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.”