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Cash-for- Confirmation Scandal Rocks Delta Assembly

Source: thewillnigeria.com
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BEVERLY HILLS, August 11, (THEWILL) – Integrity appears to have been thrown to the dogs at the Delta State House of Assembly which is now enmeshed in a cash-for-confirmation scandal as commissioner nominees are allegedly coerced to part with some money before they could be screened by members of the Assembly.

THEWILL was reliably told that the last 12 commissioners cleared by the Hon. Monday Igbuya’s led Assembly were allegedly made to part with about N2.4million which was collectively offered to the members allegedly on the order of the Speaker who said the money was to settle some logistics problems in the Assembly prior to the screening exercise.

The development, it was gathered, has polarised the Assembly as some lawmakers kicked against the way and manner the Speaker conducted the last screening exercise of commissioners.

This is coming as Governor Ifeanyi Okowa is set to send the second batch of commissioners to the Assembly for screening and clearance.

Dependable source revealed that each commissioner nominee was arms-twisted to ‘drop’ N200,000 reportedly on the grounds that there was no funds for the Assembly to carry out its functions on the said date, an excuse which was allegedly given by the Speaker for the act.

THEWILL gathered that following the alleged ‘compromise’ by the members, the screening exercise of the commissioners was shoddily conducted by the Speaker who merely asked the nominees to ‘take a bow’ and leave the chambers without allowing members to throw questions at them.

The development, according to credible sources at the state Assembly is already causing crisis in the Assembly as lawmakers await the new list of commissioners which is expected to be forwarded soon by the Governor.

A top management staff of the Assembly who pleaded anonymity while confirming the development, said; “My friend who happened to be one of the commissioner nominees told me that the Speaker and other members of the House demanded from them (Nominees) the sum of N200, 000 each before they were screened and cleared.”

Continuing, the source said; “If you were around during their screening on the floor of the House, you would have noticed that all the nominees were only told to take a bow and go following the payment of N200, 000 each. This is not how screening is usually done in the House, more so it is a new administration, some of the nominees are new faces..

“Though, we were later made to understand that that few members of the House were not carried along by the Speaker in the bribery scandal because they were opposed to the idea. On receiving the list of the would- be-commissioners sent by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, the Speaker and few other members agreed to collect the sum of N200, 000.00 per commissioner which the nominees joyously paid.

An aide to one of screened commissioners however said that the nominees willingly paid and were not forced because of paucity of funds in the state.

“You know there is no money anywhere in the state and the lawmakers are seriously broke. What actually transpired was that, the Speaker and few other members of the House tasked the 12 commissioner nominees to pay N200, 000 each….They were not forced in anyway but were urged to do the needful because their budget approvals will surely come from the House so they had no option than to accept but I think the Speaker later asked the nominees to pay N100,000 but some members were angry about it,” the aide disclosed.

When contacted over the issue, one of the lawmakers who was opposed to the idea but declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the matter told THEWILL that it was unfortunate that the Speaker had cheapened the screening exercise to the extent of openly demanding for money before screening the nominees.

“These are same people we are supposed to carry out oversight function on. So, how would they respect the House, how would they respect us when we have so cheapened ourselves before them? We are a House of 29 members, so, how much would each member get from that peanuts paid by the 12 commissioner nominees. Is this not funny that the House can bring itself so low all in the name of being ‘broke’?,” he said.

Several calls to the Assembly Speaker were rebuffed but a close source to the Speaker who wouldn’t want his name mentioned said the news of the allegation is already in the public domain. He however exonerated the Speaker from the wrangling the development has generated.