Members of the Nigerian Senate have reaffirmed their issuance of a warrant of arrest to the management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), insisting that their action falls within the ambits of the law.
This reaffirmation is coming on the heels of the reported denial of ‘arrest warrant’ by the Senate Committee Chairman on NDDC, Senator Peter Nwoboshi.
Nigerdeltaconnect.com had earlier reported that the red chambers issued a warrant of arrest following the refusal of the management of the NDDC and its sole administrator, Akwa Effiong to appear before it on account of their alleged inability to explain the N6.25 billion Covid-19 funds given to the commission.
It was gathered that the Chairman of the Senate Committee on NDDC, Peter Neoboshi had denied knowledge of any issuance of warrant arrest to the management of the NDDC.
It was while reacting to Senator Nwoboshi’s claim that Akinyelure reaffirmed the Senate’s position.
He however hinted that Nwoboshi may have been misquoted, insisting that his Committee’s warrant of arrest stands.
In his words:
May be the Chairman, Senate Committee on NDDC was quoted out of context.
As far as we are concerned in the Senate Committee on Ethics Priviledges, and Public Petitions, in our last meeting, we issued a warrant of arrest and it still stands.
We ruled that a warrant of arrest be issued to bring in the management of NDDC to explain how palliative of N6.25 billion during COVID-19 pandemic was paid.
We had earlier issued three invitation letters to bring in the management of NDDC before the Committee, they never responded. And the penalty contemplated before the last meeting was that, if by the last meeting, they didn’t respond, the warrant of arrest be issued and that is what we did.
At that time, there were a lot of problems in NDDC.
The management Committee was dissolved by Mr. President, but having now a Sole Administrator who was one of the management Committee, they should come.
The Chairman revealed that the management of the NDDC had earlier contacted the Senate and made a promise to respond to the invitation of the Senate.
According to him:
The Sole Administrator of NDDC, Effiong Akwa has already sent a delegation to the Committee that in the next meeting, he’s going to appear. The next meeting is yet to be fixed.
They have been given instructions by the Committee that all necessary defence they have concerning the N6.25 billion fund, they should get ready and we gave them three weeks so that they can prepare necessary defence for them to come and explain.
Senator Akinyelu also disclosed that the process of arresting a public office holder in government was a very sensitive procedure and needed some time to process, adding that the red chambers was dedicated to fishing out irregularities in the NDDC.
In his words:
In the meantime, the process of issuing warrant of arrest in Senate delays a little. It’s not just by pronouncement and warrant of arrest is ready tomorrow.
This is an institution of the National Assembly, there are procedures for doing things. So when a warrant of arrest is issued to bring a certain respondent to the Committee for their deliberate action not to honour a Committee; under our rule, the Committee Chairman and others can resolve to issue arrest warrant which accordingly is what we did in our last meeting. No controversy about that.
By now the process of issuing warrant of arrest has reached a final stage, but they have respected themselves, they have come and we are giving three weeks for them to prepare their defence and when they are going to present their defence, it’s to be during the public hearing.
It will be recalled that Mr. Sobomabo Jackrich, Chairman of NDDC palliative Committee, had filed a petition to the Senate with claims that the sum of N6.25 billion palliative fund was mismanaged by the Dr. Keme Pondei-led Interim Management Committee, which was dissolved a few months ago, introducing Effiong Akwa as sole administrator of the NDDC.