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NASS MEMBERS NOT INVOLVED IN NDDC CONTRACT SCAM – AKPABIO

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……..REPS REJECT APOLOGY, DRAG MINISTER TO COURT .

In what appears an swift u-turn, the Minister of the Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio says 60 percent of contracts in the Niger Delta Development Commission are not handled by members of the National Assembly.

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, on Thursday denied accusing members of the National Assembly of collecting 60 percent of the contracts awarded by the NDDC.

Akpabio who had initially threatened to expose all the national assemblymen involved in the contract scam, however 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.

This was contained in a letter read on the floor of the House of Representatives during plenary by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila.

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, Projects.

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.

However, the House of Representatives have resolved to drag him to court for criminal defamation.

The letter sent in by the former Governor of Akwa Ibom state was however dismissed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila who fumed at the attitude of the lawmaker.

“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).

“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,” the Speaker charged.

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