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NDDC: Niger Delta group condemns HURIWA’s comment on National Assembly

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A Niger Delta group has condemned the statement by Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria calling for the suspension of the probe of the interim management committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission by the National Assembly.

HURIWA said instead of the National Assembly, a “high profile judicial commission of inquiry” should be entrusted with the probe.

[It] “is the imperative call and need for the immediate constitution jointly by the President Muhammadu Buhari and the hierarchy of the National Assembly of a 7 member powerful but independent Judicial Investigative commission to look at the accusations of corruption and fraud in both the IMC of the Commission and the relevant committees of the two chambers of the National Assembly on Niger Delta Development Commission,” HURIWa said in the statement signed by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Zainab Yusuf.

But Niger Delta Renaissance Coalition (NDRC) claimed that HURIWA was another “hireling” of the interim management committee (IMC) and described the group’s statement as an “assault on the integrity and independence of the legislature.”

Damian Nwikinaka who is NDRC’s director of research and strategy said the ” unprecedented act of lies, propaganda, and blackmail by HURIWA which borders on treason challenges the integrity of our constitutional democracy; and seeks to rubbish the National Assembly’s independence and its co-equal status to the executive arm of Government by its call on President Buhari to suspend the Committees of both Houses of the National Assembly.

“May we remind HURIWA and other hirelings of the IMC still lurking in the corners that under the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) the National Assembly is empowered to oversight activities of the executive branch of government including all ministries departments and agencies. It is not a right that can be abridged or subsumed under the executive branch. In particular, Section 88 (1) of the constitution (as amended), confers on the National Assembly the power to “direct or cause to be directed investigation into – (a) any matter or thing with respect to which it has the power to make laws, and (b) the conduct of affairs of any person, authority, ministry or government department charged, or intended to be charged, with the duty of or responsibility for – (i) executing or administering laws enacted by National Assembly, and (ii) disbursing or administering monies appropriated or to be appropriated by the National Assembly.” This is why the National Assembly has a responsibility to investigate the books of NDDC where Akpabio and the IMC have been accused of misappropriating the sum of N40 billion so appropriated.

“That the IMC, which by the way is not known to the law setting up NDDC, has levelled allegations against the Committees of the National Assembly does not, therefore, obviate from the constitutional empowerment of the legislature to exercise its oversight functions. HURIWA which has chosen to cry louder than the bereaved, and its paymasters, IMC, have the nation’s anti-corruption agencies such as the EFCC and ICPC to run to and make their formal cases rather than the resort to threats, lies, abuses, and blackmail of the National Assembly thereby trying to sabotage the constitutionally guaranteed oversight function of the legislature.

“We also wish to remind HURIWA that the principle of checks and balances in our constitutional democracy is that each branch of government is independent and any difference between both arms is resolved by the courts as the final arbiter. This principle induces one branch to prevent either of the other branches from becoming supreme, thereby securing political liberty.

“It is the sanctity of the doctrine of separation of powers that is the crux of the matter and why HURIWA must be challenged and exposed for what they stand for, which for all intents and purposes jeopardises the nation’s democratic journey.

“HURIWA needs reminding that the investigation being carried out is in the natural line of duty of the National Assembly made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

“What HURIWA is doing is to distort the object of the probe; divert attention from the allegations against the IMC, seek to damage the integrity of the National Assembly, hurt our constitutional democracy, and thereby let the illegal IMC continue to loot the NDDC without checks.

“We will therefore not condone this and we urge the National Assembly and all Nigerians to stand firm and reject, once again, this cheap blackmail that the likes of HURIWA have made their stock in trade.”


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