NCC Board: Mark Sacks Communication Committee Over Forgery

Source: EMMA UCHE -

ABUJA, July 29, (THEWILL) - The Senate today sacked the Committee on Communication over disclosures that it told lies of a screening work not done to the plenary. The dissolution of the panel was first of its kind since the current tenure.

Senate President, David mark who showed sign of embarrassment said the committee "attempted to ridicule the upper chamber, by telling it lies of a screening that never took place.

Despite the incident, the Senate suspended order 17 of its rules to carry out an open screening of the nominees on the spot in the plenary as against the conventional practice of committee screening. The nominees, which includes; Mr. Peter Igoh as Chairman; Dr Eugene Juwah as Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; Mr. Okechukwu Itanyi as Executive Commissioner and Alhaji Mohammed Bintube as Non-Executive Commissioner, were screened, cleared and confirmed.

It could be recall that the 54 standing committees of the Senate were constituted in 2007 shortly after the inauguration of the Senate on June 5, 2007, and they have remained intact until today.

The committee, which was chaired by Senator Sylvester Anyanwu (PDP, Imo), had submitted a report of the purported screening of members of the Governing Board of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) to the Senate for consideration.

Trouble for him and his members started, when debate was halted mid-way by a member of the panel, Senator Umar Argungu (PDP, Kebbi). He had raised a point of order in which he disclosed to a shocked Senate that no screening took place contrary to the report presented by Senator Anyanwu.

Argungun in his submission wondered how the committee Chairman came about the report being presented to the Senate.

To corroborate the disclosure of Argungu, another member of the committee, Senator Tanko Ayuba (PDP-Kebbi) who signed the report along six other committee members, said that he signed the report of the screening only "this morning but was not aware of any screening been done by the committee."

"This is the time to own up. I signed this morning but didn't attend any screening," he said.

Obviously embarrassed by the revelations, the Vice Chairman of the Committee, Senator Joseph Akaagerger (PDP, Benue) appealed to the Senate, to dissolve into a closed-door session to resolve the issue. But Senate President Mark rebuffed the appeal.

Senator Mark emphatically told him that, "There will be no close session. The committee has put itself in an embarrassing situation. I am sad by this. One committee should not ridicule the Senate.

"I am truly disappointed in the committee. None of the committee members can exonerate himself and all of you appended your signatures. I am short of words but I insist that we will not go into closed session. This committee stands dissolved."

A confused Anyanwu, who pleaded against the dissolution of the committee, said, "We feel sad but we can still correct our short-coming."

However, after much pressure from the Deputy Senate President, Senator. Ike Ekweremadu and Sen. Mohammed Maaji Maina, Deputy Chief Whip, Mark agreed to go into a closed-door session.

But after a closed-door session that lasted about 45 minutes, the Senate President announced the disbandment of the committee, adding that the members of the governing board of the NCC, who were at the Senate gallery to witness their confirmation, would be screened openly by the Senate.

Anyanwu had in the report stated that the committee screened the members on July 27 and urged the Senate to confirm the nominees. He had also affirmed that the reports of the police and security agencies also cleared the nominees.

However, Senator Joel Danlami (PDP, Taraba) had raised an observation that his state had been marginalized in federal appointments in the country.

He argued that the slot of the North East had always been occupied by people from Borno State.

"The principle of federal character must be taken into consideration. Nobody has been appointed to head any commission from my state. Borno has had too many at the expense of Taraba,'' he said.

However, a copy of the report made available to newsmen showed that only five of the 11-member committee signed the document that cleared the nominees.

The report also indicates that the Clerk of the committee, Mr. Kolawole Kayode, signed for Senators Yisa Braimoh (PDP, Edo) and Odion Ugbesia (PDP, Edo).