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You’ve no power investigate us, NAF tells Reps
Tony Akowe, Abuja
The House of Representatives and the Nigerian Airforce on Monday disagreed on the legality of the House investigating the activities of the force and its subsidiaries for wrong doing.
Nigerian Air force stunned members of the House of Representatives adhoc committee investigating the alleged use of force against Blue Boulevard when they told the Committee that it lacked the constitutional power to investigate the activities of NAF Holding and NAF property limited as they were not funded by public money.
But the adhoc committee dismissed the position of the Force, insisting that it was not bound by the rules of court, but by the resolution of the House at plenary presided over by the Speaker, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila directing that the investigation be carried out.
The House had at it’s plenary in in January mandated its committees on Airforce and Justice to investigate the petition written by Blue Boulevard accusing the Airforce of using force against them and reneging in a contractual agreement they had to build a shopping mall at the Mami market in Port Harcourt.
When the petition first came up for investigation, the Airforce representatives told the committee that they have not been served with the petition and appealed for a new date to enable them receive service from the petitioner and respond to the issues raised.
However, at the resumed hearing of the petition on Monday, legal counsel to NAF Property, Uche Duruibe raised an objection to the continuation of the investigation and the chairmanship of the Committee by the Chairman of the House Committee on Air Force
He insisted that if they allow the petitioner to state their case, it would mean that they have accepted that the Chairman of the House Committee on Air force, Rep Shehu Koko should preside over the investigation.
The Counsel said they were not comfortable with Rep Koko presiding over the investigation, alleging among others likely biased because the lawyer to Blue Boulevard who signed the petition hails from the same Kebbi state with the lawmaker.
He said Rep Koko “must excuse” himself from the investigation if it must go on because he was being investigated by the ICPC for wrong doing, saying having refused to honour the invitation from the ICPC, he should not be sitting on any investigation.
He claimed that the letter from the House Committee on Airforce requesting the Chief of Air Staff to respond to the petition by the Blue Boulevard was written several days before the House resolution which was a clear indication that he will not be fair to the Air Force.
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He also claimed that the since the petition was not about fraud, but about a contractual agreement between two parties, it is out of the purview of the House to investigate and should have been done before the law court.
He said further that what the House was doing was taking over the functions of the court and asked the House to excuse itself from carrying on with the investigation.
He also said that the NAF Holdings and NAF Property were not funded by money appropriated by the National Assembly, but by contributions by personnel of the Nigerian Air Force m
When asked to explain what section one and two of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, he said he was not able to explain the sections.
Counsel to Blue Boulevard, Junaidu Bello Marshal frown at what he described as personality attack by the Air Force, adding that he has no personal relationship with the Chairman of the House Committee on Airforce, even though they are from the same state.
He said they were not in the National Assembly to seek judgement, but to bare their mind and ensure that they checkmate the activities of the Airforce.
While saying the House has the power to carry out investigation, he said they were not particular about who heads the investigation, stressing that the company has already secured a court judgment against the Airforce.
Ruling on the objection, Chairman of the House Committee on Justice Rep. Ozurigbo Ugonna said the House was proceeding with the investigation and dismissed all the ground of objections filed by the Air Force.
He said the committee was investigating the petition written to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, dated January 20, 2020 which was deliberated upon at the House plenary of January 30, 2020 and not the petition addressed to the Chairman of the House Committee on Airforce.
He said further that even though the ICPC invited Rep. Shehu Koko, the Commission has since discovered that the person being investigated by it was a Hon. Salisu Koko, former lawmaker and has since written a letter of apology to Rep Koko and therefore dismissed the objection.
He told them that the Committee draws its power to carry on with the investigation from the constitution and the House Standing order mandating the Committee to carry out the investigation and report back to the House.
You’ve no power investigate us, NAF tells Reps