The Nigerian Federal House of Representatives has summoned the Chairman of Independent Corrupt Practices (ICPC) and other related offences Commission, Bolaji Owasanoye, of accusing lawmakers of fraud.
The ICPC boss had reportedly said that some lawmakers perpetuate fraud by duplicating constituency projects.
The constituency project has been subjected to renewed controversy following the accusation by President Muhammadu Buhari that over One Trillion Naira (N1trn) had been wasted on such projects. The House of Representatives blamed Owasanoye for misleading the President on the issue. At the plenary on Tuesday 17th December, 2019 John Dyegh, representing Gboko/Tarka Federal Constituency of Benue State, moved a motion to protest the claim by the ICPC, saying the allegation infringed on his privilege as a member of parliament.
He said, “The House is further concerned that this is capable of pitting the National Assembly members against their constituents and portray us as thieves.”
The lawmaker argued that no court in Nigeria had given any judgment declaring the legislature or its members as thieves, saying, “So, the ICPC chairman has no such right. If you say someone stole, you are saying he/she is a thief”.
Another member, Mr. Ossy Ehiriodu, prayed the House to invite the ICPC boss to address the lawmakers in plenary as the claim was against the entire parliament. According him, he said, “My amendment is on the prayer, where he (Dyegh) is requesting that the Chairman of ICPC be invited by the committee. I think this is not an issue of a committee; it is an issue that affects the entire members of the National Assembly. I think the Chairman of the Independent corrupt practices and other related offences commission should be invited to come on the floor of this House to substantiate his allegation against members that we are thieves.”
The Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, who presided over the plenary, though, warned the lawmakers to be cautious as the comments made by the boss of ICPC might have been misquoted or misrepresented.
He further said, “I’ll rather subscribe to allowing the committees to interface with him. We should allow the committee to do their work and give us feedback.