More Senators In Bribery Scam



LEADERSHIP

More Senators In Bribery Scam       

Written by Stanley Yakubu, Abuja    
Thursday, 14 May 2009 02:18 

With four of its prominent members already cooling off their heels in a cell at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission headquarters in Abuja over allegations of financial impropriety in the power sector, more members of the National Assembly may join their colleagues soon in the cell if they are found wanting in the allegation hanging on their necks.

Against the backdrop of an allegation by the Federal Government early this week that some members of the Senate had received bribes from some oil companies with a view to dance to their tune.

The Special Adviser to the President on Petroleum Matters, Dr. Emmanuel Egbogah, had alleged that oil companies operating in Nigeria might have compromised some members of the National Assembly and labour unions to shut down the reforms planned for the oil and gas industry.

Addressing Senate correspondents yesterday shortly after plenary, Senate spokesman, Senator Ayogu Eze, confessed that there were indications that some senators were in Ghana recently on the invitation of some oil companies.

Worried by this development and based on the weight of the allegation from the Presidency concerning the bribe, Eze disclosed, the Senate has embarked on the probe of the lawmakers involved in the new scandal.

“It is with heavy heart and it is most unfortunate that, indeed, some members of the National Assembly did go to Ghana on the invitation and sponsorship of some oil companies.

“It is very clear in the Senate standing orders rule 21 that every senator or committee members are required to notify formally the leadership of the Senate before embarking on any trip outside the country for their oversight functions.

“I can tell you here that we have cross-checked and found out that those members who travelled to Ghana did not notify the leadership of this trip. So, the Senate has directed its Committee on Ethics and Petitions to investigate the entire issue, and the committee has also been mandated to conduct a public hearing on the issue to find out what really happened.”

The spokesman declared that it was the decision of members of the upper chamber that anyone found wanting on this allegation would face the wrath of the law.

“If any of them said to have gone to Ghana is found to have compromised,  I can assure you that the Senate has decided such a member shall stand alone because no one person will be shielded by the leadership of the Senate”, he emphasised.

Although Senator Eze declined to give the identities of his colleagues who travelled to Ghana for the deal, Leadership reliably gathered that those involved are members of the Senate Committees on Oil Sector – Downstream, Upstream and Gas  Committees.
 

PUNCH

Oil sector reform bill: Senate investigates 10 members

By John Alechenu, Abuja
Published: Thursday, 14 May 2009

The Senate on Wednesday mandated its committee on Ethics, Code of Conduct and Public Petitions to investigate 10 Senators who attended a workshop over the Petroleum Industry Bill in Ghana.

This decision was sequel to the adoption of a point of order raised by Senator George Thomson Sekibo.

Sekibo had earlier drawn the attention of his colleagues to the lead story of The Punch, of Monday 11, May 2009, where the Special Adviser to the President on Petroleum Matters, Dr. Emmanuel Egboga, was quoted as saying that attempts were made to compromise senators to work against the bill.

The Senate also took exception to what it called a sustained campaign by the executive to blackmail it over the issue of bills.

President of the Senate, David Mark, could hardly conceal his disappointment during the plenary session.

But he promised that the Senate was going to hold a public hearing on the allegations of bribery levelled against some senators.

Mark said “There is going to be a serious public hearing and I think you (Senator Lee Maeba) should reserve detailed comments now until that time.

“Because, when people begin to beckon at their whims and caprices to label us in the way they want, we should take it seriously.

“They cannot just blackmail us and get away with it the way they want to do things.

“Now, we have consistent bad reputation consistently emanating from the same group of federal assistants to Mr. President in one form or the other.

“We are not going to take it. So, we should take this very seriously and whatever detail you have you should reserve it because eventually, this matter is going to be referred to one of the committees for investigation.

“And it will be done in the glare of every Nigerian so that if there are problems, we can tell exactly where the problems are.”

Mark also insisted that every person involved must be given an opportunity to publicly state how much they knew about what happened in Ghana.

According to him, the delay in considering the Petroleum Sector Reform Bill is caused by the sponsors of the bill.

He said “As far as I know the Petroleum Reform industry bill up till now the ministers say they are not prepared to have that bill before us. Even though the bill is before us, they are not prepared for us to take it yet because they are still going through it.

“So it is very unfortunate and very unfair for anybody to wake up and begin to accuse the National Assembly of delaying it.”

 

 

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