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Diezani: House Laments Misinformation On Alleged N10bn Private Jet Probe

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BEVERLY HILLS, CA, June 01, (THEWILL) â€' The House of Representatives has lamented what it described as the misinformation leading to the suspension of the investigation into allegations of N10 billion spent on the charter of a private jet by the Petroleum Resources Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Victor Ogene, disclosed this at a media briefing, Sunday, in Abuja, saying 'we are sorry for that slip, wherever it came from.'

Ogene however commended Justice Ahmed Mohammed 'for standing on the side of justice' by clearly declaring that he never granted any injunction against the House in favour of the Minister and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

On whether the House has power to summon a Minister or not , the deputy chairman noted that the action of the House as covered by Section 88 of the 1999 Constitution was very explicit on the matter.

'The House will not at any time shy way from its responsibilities.

Acting in personal capacity is different from acting as an agent of government; so it is baffling to attempt to prevent agents of government from being answerable to Nigerians.

'Any life not worthy of examination is not worth living, because the essence of democracy is to ensure that we examine ourselves. The position of the law is unchanged, and no man or woman is above the law,' he stated.

On the minister's alleged insistence that she can only appear before the House on the directive of the President, Ogene said the House would not join issues with the minister.

'When the current House was inaugurated in 2011, I don't think any member had any particular minister in mind. The House does not prosecute anybody because reports of our investigations are still passed on to the executive arm to implement.

'The tendency in Nigeria is that when people are summoned, they are seen to be guilty ab initio, which is not correct,' Ogene stated.

He explained that the mandate of the House to the Public Accounts Committee over the alleged expenditure had never at any time been withdrawn. He said investigations of this nature do not start and end with the physical appearance of the persons concerned as the Constitution permits either written or oral submissions and both as may be required to obtain the needed information.

He however commended Nigerians for their steadfastness, describing them as important stakeholders in the 15 years of uninterrupted democratic governance, urging the three arms of government to work for the generality of Nigerians.

'Yes, we sometimes have our differences but at any time, we must realise that we are one government. So we expect the smooth administration of the nation,' he added.

An Abuja Federal High Court presided over by Justice Ahmed Mohammed last Monday had ordered the House to address a press conference to correct its earlier statement that the court restrained it from investigating the Petroleum Resources Minister, Dieziani Alison-Madueke, and NNPC over alleged spending of N10 billion on the charter of a private jet , pending the determination of their suit.

Meanwhile, the House had last week through its counsel, A.B Mahmud, apologised to the court for the press conference held by the House, wherein it was stated that the court had stopped the probe.