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REPORTS OF HOUSE PROBES WITH EFCC, ICPC–BANKOLE INSISTS

By NBF News

House of Representatives Speaker, Mr. Dimeji Bankole yesterday said it is not true that anti-graft agencies are not in possesion of copies of reports of probes launched by the House for them to prosecute indicted officials.

Bankole replied to requests by civil society groups to make available reports of investigations into the power sector, oil and gas sector and internally generated revenue for prosecution, saying it would be wrong to blame the leadership of House for the inability or refusal of anti-corruption agencies to prosecute indicted officials.

President of the Committee for Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Mr Supo Ojo, had 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 Bankole's office where the House was blamed for the inability of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to prosecute persons indicted in the report of the probes conducted by the House.

Ojo said it was disgusting that more than two years after the report of the probes were adopted by the House, agencies who should make use of it were claiming that they could not lay their hands on them.

But Bankole insisted that such comments were not only untrue but also misleading.

'If anyone says he or she does not have the document, I am surprised.

'I assure you that no one need any special permission from me to access the document, these are public document and they are available for anybody who have interest in having them,' he said.

Being specific, the Speaker noted that the comment credited to the ICPC chairman could not be true.

Ojo had told the Speaker that Civil Society Organisations in the country are worried that cases of corruption in Nigeria are being swept under the carpet, because the agencies saddled with the task are not doing their job adequately.

For instance, he stated that it would amount to injustice to the generality of Nigerians, if tax payers money expended on organizing public hearings as well as travelling round the country to verifying the authenticity of contracts carried out on the power project under Obasanjo administration, which were later found to be fake, are allowed to be a wasted efforts.

As a concerned group, he informed the Speaker that the Civil Society Organisations 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 that appropriate anti-corruption agencies further investigate and probe those suspected to be responsible and recover funds.

'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 assured the Civil society community that the House under him would always preach probity in the management of public fund, adding that the traditional duty of law making would not be jettisoned.

He promised that all international treaties aimed at fighting corruption in governance would soon be domesticated so that it can be enforced in Nigeria.