A Review of the Nigerian Energy Industry

Farouk vs Otedola: Lawmakers to make probe findings public soon

Okey Ndiribe & Emman Ovuakporie

02 November 2012, Sweetcrude, ABUJA — NIGERIA’s House of Representatives, Thursday, said it would make public the findings of the Ethics and Privileges Committee on the alleged $620,000 bribe given to Hon. Farouk Lawan by business mogul, Mr Femi Otedola, next week.

Briefing journalists on recent development in the House, Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Media, Hon. Victor Ogene, said “the report on the allegation will be made available next week.”

On why Boniface Emenalo, Clerk of the ad hoc committee on fuel subsidy regime had remained a free man, Ogene said:” That question should be directed at the Clerk of the National Assembly not us. It is strictly a civil service affair and as you are aware, it is a criminal offence, the Inspector General of Police will soon start its prosecution.”

No going back on constitution review
Also, Chairman House Committee on Media, Hon Zakari Mohammed reiterated the position of the House on the Constitution Review, declaring that”there is no going back on the exercise because that is how we can carry along all Nigerians via the 360 constituencies.

“It is rather unfortunate that the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, made a statement disparaging the whole exercise as unproductive, but for us there is no going back. We swore to protect the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as Sections 4 and 9 of the constitution are explicit on this issue. We cannot support extra constitutional provision via a referendum.

“The statement credited to NBA President, Mr Oke Wali on this issue is rather unfortunate and this people call themselves learned persons. We are not trying to join issues with NBA but the statement is very, very unfortunate.”

On the Lawan issue, it would be recalled that “the Ethics and Privileges committee led by Hon Gambo Musa had invited Mr Femi Otedola to provide necessary documentary evidence to prove Lawan’s culpability but refused, claiming that he could only do that in public not in secret.

The position of Otedola invoked the wrath of the committee which decided to go ahead with their findings.

The fuel subsidy report, after it was laid, had indicted two companies owned by Otedola and this led to accusations and counter accusations of alleged bribery.
This led to the suspension of Hon Lawan as both House Committee Chairman on Education and the adhoc committee on fuel subsidy.

On the position of NBA on the constitution review, it would be recalled that the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, had expressed reservation over the process adopted by the National Assembly towards the review of the 1999 Constitution, saying it lacked the required elements of legitimacy.

The NBA President, Oke Wali (SAN), said this on Wednesday at the inauguration of its two committees, the NBA Committee on Constitutional Review and Law Reform and the NBA Rule of Law Action Group.

According to Wali, there is no way a one-day public hearing as being proposed by the House of Representatives in the 360 federal constituencies, will provide the people adequate opportunity to make substantial and tangible inputs aimed at producing a people-oriented document.

Wali said it was only when a referendum was called to aggregate the wishes and aspirations of a people, that the constitution could be said to be “the people’s constitution”.

He also disclosed that the NBA was not favourably disposed to participating in the ongoing efforts to alter some aspects of the constitution, adding that its change of mind was, however, with proximity out of prejudice to the noticeable “lacunae” in the entire exercise.

While recognising the participation of various groups like the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, et al, the NBA president said the association, through its Review and Law Reform Committee would engage the process through strategic consultation with other actors.

The NBA has some reservations about the ongoing process as it does not appear to be very orderly. There is no clear agenda or known methodology. In fact, the House of Representatives will be holding a public hearing session simultaneously in all the 360 federal constituencies in the country on Saturday, November 10, 2012.

Our first instinct was not to be part of this because we did not think that a one-day gathering in 360 constituencies.

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  • While some of us are curious to see what the House comes up with, it is unfortunate to note that the public has lost confidence in the ability of the House to adjudicate in a matter concerning one of its own.