Mr Speaker, Rt. Hon. Dimeji Sabur Bankole alleged interrogation when visiting Nigerians diaspora rightly questioned why he has continued to cling to the reins of power despite serious cases of corruption brought against him. Mr Speaker had initially alleged religious agenda against him, now it is politics even though all the allegedly suspended progressives are PDP members like him.
On 25th June this year, an anti-graft agency the ICPC publicly stated that Mr Speaker is being probed over 3 corruption cases including the N5.2 billion Rural Electrification scam in which he allegedly employed his family members and cronies as contractors. This is a fallout of the same $16b power probe by the House in 2008 which he claimed stepped on the toes of many powerful people in the country. Is this not the same Hon. Dimeji Bankole that has been running pillar to post begging the same powerful people to help him save his job? The motion for investigation of the N64b Second Abuja Airport Runway contract, which led to its cancellation was actually sponsored by Hon. Dino Melaye. Why would the same person who claimed to be saving public funds supervise brutality against his colleagues for simply asking him to explain how he spent N9b capital allocations?
According to Speaker Dimeji Bankole, members of the Progressive-Minded Legislators, forged documents just to ridicule him on the N2.3b car scam. The EFCC report on the car scam was “authoritatively” quoted in the media last month stating that overN530m was found in the Deputy Speaker’s bank account and that he confessed in writing that it was the proceeds of the car scam which he shared with Mr Speaker and other principal officers. Did the EFCC relied on forged documents too? Why is it that none of us has been charged with forgery? Can he say the documents we submitted on the Television, photocopiers, torchlight (search light) among others are also forged?
While Hon Patricia Etteh stepped aside for her matter to be considered, in considering the report of the N2.3b car scam submitted to the House by its Committee on Ethics and Privileges, the Deputy Speaker Hon Usman Nafada presided over a cause in which himself and all other principal officers are accused. In their desperation to give the House leadership a clean bill of health on the N2.3b car scam, the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges publicly exhibited unethical conduct at its proceedings on Wednesday 29 October, 2008 which degenerated into abuses, threats and name-calling against Lagos lawyer Barr Festus Keyamo who initiated the investigations. But we now know better from media report that the same leadership which was cleared by the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges has since been indicted. Against this backdrop therefore, we can predict that the Committee will more than likely absolve the House Leadership of any blame in their report of investigations into the N9b Capital votes, that is if they have indeed been so mandated by a resolution of the House.
It is unfortunate that the Chairman, House Committee on Ethics and Privileges Hon. Sani Saleh Minjibir claimed that suspended progressives did not exhaust the internal mechanism availed them by the rules of the House. The Committee Chairman knows very well that no one can be suspended under any rule of the House without first being heard. The House cannot reduce a criminal allegation involving the unaccounted expenditure of a whooping N9b from public purse as its internal affairs. If events of 22nd June, 2010 are internal affairs, why did they charge Hon Austin Nwachukwu and 3 of us to a magistrate court?
As it stands now, the integrity of the current administration in the country is definitely at stake. How the anti-corruption agencies of government handle this matter could make or mar the country’s anti-corruption credentials both locally and internationally.
Bitrus B. Kaze
Member, House of Representatives
(Jos South-Jos East Federal Constituency, Plateau State)
Member of the PML
The opinions in this column are solely those of Hon. Bitrus B. Kaze
Hon. Bitrus B. Kaze is a House of representatives member affected by the House suspension. Other members of the Progressives include Honourables Ehizogie West Idahosa, Solomon Ahwinnahwi, Austin Nwachkwu, Abba Annas Adamu, Gbenga Oduwaiye, Kayode Amusa, Gbenga Onogbogi, Bitrus Kaze and Doris Uboh.