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Nigeria's Parliament Speaker Violated Rules, Report Says


In Nigeria, the committee investigating allegations that Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives violated House rules has submitted its report to parliament. Patricia Etteh, the first woman speaker of Nigeria’s federal House of Representatives is being accused of flouting House rules when she awarded contracts worth 628 million naira or five million U.S. dollars to renovate her official residence and that of her deputy. The full House of Representatives will consider the report when the lawmakers returns from their current short Moslem religious holiday.

Kawu Sumaila is deputy minority leader of the Nigerian House of Representatives. He told VOA the committee found that the speaker did not follow House rules in awarding the contracts.

“The committee has found that due process was not followed during the awarding of the contracts, and the minorities are excluded; they are not invited to the meeting. As you know, as a body of principal officers, we supposed to meet with management to award the contracts of that amount. But we were not invited to that meeting as we testified before the panel. And we did not receive any communication from anybody, which is against the procedure. We must be invited, and it is left with us whether to attend or not,” he said.

Speaker Etteh had reportedly said that she followed due process in awarding the contracts. But Sumaila disagreed.

“According to the findings of the committee, they are saying that the due process was not followed. One of the processes of awarding contracts is the participation of the minority or the participation of the body of the principal officers. We have testified before the panel that among the principal officers in the House, we were not in that meeting. Therefore, it clearly shows that the due process is not followed,” he said.

Sumaila said the 19-page report did not include recommendations or sanctions against the Speaker. Instead he said the full committee will debate the report when it returns from its current short Moslem religious holiday.

“We are in very short recess because of Ramadan and the lesser Hajj. Therefore when we come back in 14 days, we will start debating on it. I can’t predict or pre-empt the outcome of that debate,” Sumaila said.

Some analysts have suggested that the investigation of the Speaker was motivated by politics. But Sumaila said the investigation was not the work of the main political. Instead it was led bypeople within the speaker’s own ruling People’s Democratic Party.

“Actually, we the opposition we are not against the speaker as a person. We are behind the leadership, and we are doing what we can to protect the interest of the leadership. But the main issue is that there are some opposition from the ruling party in the House, the so-called Integrity Group, which are opposing the Speaker, not the main opposition – the ANPP (All Nigeria People’s Party), AC (Action Congress), and other parties,” he said.

Sumaila said the investigation of the Speaker is also part of President Umaru Yar’Adua’s declaration to have a zero tolerance in fighting corruption, and that it is in the Speaker’s interest to let the process take its course.

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