The embattled Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio has written the National Assembly to deny ever saying that most of the NDDC contracts were awarded to members of the upper and lower legislative chambers.
The Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila announced the receipt of Akpabio’s letter. The minister had claimed in his response that he was referring to old contracts awarded by NDDC which had not been paid for. The Speaker however insisted that Akpabio would be sued for civil defamation by the House of Representatives:
“Last Tuesday I issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs to substantiate his allegation that over 60% (sixty per cent) of contracts awarded by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) went to members of the National Assembly.
I said then that the Honourable Minister owed it to himself and the country to provide evidence to support these serious allegations. The Honourable Minister has failed to respond to my request.
Therefore, I must conclude that his statement intended solely to gaslight the nation to avoid accountability for the evident maladministration and malfeasance in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
I have held every House of Representatives leadership position from Minority Whip, to Minority Leader, Leader of the House (Majority Leader) and now Speaker. I recognise that the House has not always lived up to the high expectations of the Nigerian people.
As much as we still have a lot to do in that regard, I refuse to sit here in good conscience and allow anyone to assassinate the character of the House in an attempt to deflect accountability for their conduct in office.
This morning, I asked the Clerk of House of Represnetatives to engage the services of legal counsel, and instruct them to initiate a criminal complaint of perjury against the Minister. At the same time, we will instruct counsel to explore the possibility of a civil defamation suit. The House of Representatives is a public trust placed in our care for the duration of our term in office. We must prove ourselves worthy of this public trust or risk the censure of history.
Therefore, we will resist every attempt to undermine this institution, whether such attempts come from within or from outside. The House of Represnetatives will live up to the highest expectations of the Nigerian people. This is our commitment, and we will not fail.”