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Plot against Etteh thickens

Posted by By JAMES OJO, Abuja. on 2007/09/05 | Views: 2534 |

Plot against Etteh thickens


The stage for a turbulent session in the House of Representatives was last night set after six weeks of recess, following the insistence of Integrity Group pushing for the removal of the Speaker, Mrs Patricia Olubumi Etteh, and her deputy, Babangida Nguroje, and the camp of the Speaker sticking to their guns.

•As reps vow to expose more allegations against Speaker

The stage for a turbulent session in the House of Representatives was last night set after six weeks of recess, following the insistence of Integrity Group pushing for the removal of the Speaker, Mrs Patricia Olubumi Etteh, and her deputy, Babangida Nguroje, and the camp of the Speaker sticking to their guns.

Integrity Group, led by Hon Farouk Lawan, who moved the motion nominating Mrs Etteh for the plum job assembled 51 other members to demand for the resignation of the Speaker since she can not be a judge in her own case.

Lawan said that it was the decision of the group not to conduct the business of the House under a cloud of controversy as a panel must be set up to determine the level of involvement of the Speaker in the contract scandal that had rocked the House.

"We note very quickly that a precedent for this was set in the Senate in 2001 in the case of the late Chuba Okadigbo, the then Senate President. We believe this is to be the right approach as the Speaker under the rules of natural justice cannot be a judge in her own case. Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to have been done," he said.

But the camp of the embattled Speaker at a separate briefing insisted that the Speaker had not done anything wrong to warrant the call for her to step aside, more so that she had not been tried in the hallowed chamber.

Ita Enang, Malaiye Dino, Esuiche Ubani and Beni Lar, chairmen of Buisness and Rules, Information, Publicity and Media and Women Affairs committees respectively declared that the best place to try the Speaker was not the pages of newspapers, but the floor of the House so that there would be fair hearing.

"It is wrong for any member to be calling for the removal of the Speaker when she had not been found culpable by the House. If any body has anything against the Speaker, the right place to table it is our hallowed chamber. People should stop making outrageous allegations against the symbol of the institution of parliament," Dino advised.

Beni Lar, daughter of Chief Solomon Lar, the pioneer national chairman of PDP, wondered why accusers of Mrs Etteh would not stop when the management of the National Assembly that awarded the contract had come out to her defence.

Lawan Farouk and his group promised to shock the Speaker when the House resumes today, assuring that more facts of sleaze involving Etteh would be revealed before members enter the chambers.
He said that what his group was doing was to restore the credibility of the House that the scam had destoyed, claiming that he had no grouse against the person of Madam Speaker.

"It is not a matter between Etteh and us, it is not about individual, it is a matter of integrity, honour and the sanctity of the institution of the parliament," he said.
Already, allegations of fake certificate, donation of N15 million to organize send-forth party, the transfer of the account of the House to another bank and allegations of N70 million expended on a trip to South Africa have already been flying around against the embattled Speaker.

Another fresh allegation was that the contract to renovate the Speaker’s residence was awarded to a company where one of her aides, a former member of the House has interest.
Meanwhile, Senator Ita Giwa, Special Adviser to the president on National Assembly Matters had waded into the crisis in the House, but her intervention did not stop the briefing by the Integrity Group from holding.

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