The Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabimila, has directed the Clerk of the House to engage the services of a legal counsel to file a suit of civil defamation and perjury against the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
The Speaker made the announcement at the plenary on Thursday while reacting to the failure of the minister to substantiate his claims that 60 per cent of the contracts in the Niger Delta Development Committee (NDDC) were awarded to lawmakers.
Gbajabimila recalled that the during the investigative hearing on the alleged financial malfeasance amounting to N40 billion in the NDDC, Akpabio had under oath alleged that 60 per cent of contracts in the commission were awarded to lawmakers.
Gbajabimila recalled that on Tuesday July 21, 2020, he issued a 48 hours ultimatum to Akpabio to publish the names of lawmakers and details of contracts awarded to them.
The speaker said that the minister had failed to respond to the request saying that Akpabio statement intended solely to gaslight the nation from the maladministration and malfeasance in the NDDC.
“I recognise that the House has not always lived up to the high expectations of the Nigerian people.
“As much as we still have a lot to do in that regard, I refuse to sit here in good conscience and allow anyone to assassinate the character of the House in an attempt to deflect accountability for their conduct in office.
“Such mendacity as was witnessed at the public hearing will not be tolerated from anybody no matter how highly placed.
“This morning, I asked the Clerk of the House of Representatives to engage the services of legal counsel, and instruct them to initiate a criminal complaint of perjury against the Minister.
“At the same time, we will instruct counsel to explore the possibility of a civil defamation suit against the Minister,” he said.
Gbajabimila said that the House is a public trust placed in the care of lawmakers for the duration of term in office.
According to him, legislators must prove worthy of this public trust or risk the censure of history.
The speaker said lawmakers will resist every attempt to undermine the institution, whether such attempts come from within or from outside.
He promised that the House will live up to the highest expectations of the Nigerian people saying that it is the commitment the House will not fail.