We'll Not Shield Corrupt Officials - Bankole
ABUJA, July 27, (THEWILL) - Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Dimeji Bankole has asked Nigerians not to hold lawmakers responsible for the failure of anti-corruption agencies to prosecute persons or companies indicted by reports of several investigations by the House.
Bankole gave the explanation following a request by civil society groups to him to make available reports of investigation into the power sector, oil and gas sector and internally generated revenue conducted by the House.
President of the Committee for Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Mr. Supo Ojo led representatives of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Ikeja Branch, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Centre for the Rule of Law (CENTROLAW), and the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADL) to his office for the demand.
Ojo, speaking on behalf of the other groups, lamented that more than two years after the report of the probes were adopted by the House, anti-graft agencies who should act on the outcome of the investigations were claiming that they could not lay their hands on them.
But Speaker Bankole insisted that such comments could not be true as the reports were open for the public to access.
"If anyone says he or she does not have the document, I am surprised", he said, adding that "I assure you that no one needs any special permission from me to access the document, these are public documents and they are available for anybody who has interest in having them," he said.
Ojo added that Civil Society Organisations in the country are bothered that corruption in Nigeria is not being tackled adequately because the agencies do not pursue the cases to the end.
According to Ojo, it is unjust to the generality of Nigerians, if tax payers money expended on organizing public hearings as well as traveling round the country to verify the authenticity of contracts carried out on the power projects under the Obasanjo administration, which were later found to be questionable and are allowed to be a wasted effort.
He added that his group is concerned and have approached ICPC and EFCC to demand for the prosecution of persons indicted by the probes, only to be told that the House was yet to make available copies of the report to them to enable them do their job.
"Having waited for over two years after submission of the reports, and despite shocking revelations that billions of Dollars and Trillions of Naira in hard-earned revenue of the Nigerian people ended up in the pockets of public officers, politicians and civil servants, we became worried that no concrete action is being taken to implement the recommendations of the House.
Ojo added, "This is why we presented separate petitions and copies of the two reports to ICPC and EFCC with request that the bodies take immediate action on the report."
During our visit and interaction with the ICPC, the Chairman, Honourable Justice Ayoola informed us that no copy of the report has been forwarded to the Commission prior to our submission to it. The implication is that there is a yawning gap to be filled between the House and the relevant agencies."
Bankole however assured the civil society community that the House is determined to ensure accountability in the management of public funds, adding that the traditional duty of law making would not be jettisoned.
He promised that the House would begin the domestication process for all international treaties aimed at fighting corruption in governance as soon as it returns from its recess later in the year.