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Land allocation saga: Senate spits fire

Posted by By BASHIR UMAR, Abuja on 2008/04/25 | Views: 488 |

Land allocation saga: Senate spits fire


Former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, on Thursday received a hard knock from the Senate over comments on the probe of the allocation of land and sale of Federal Government houses in FCT in the last four years of the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo administration.

• Knocks El-Rufai

Former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, on Thursday received a hard knock from the Senate over comments on the probe of the allocation of land and sale of Federal Government houses in FCT in the last four years of the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo administration.

Particularly, the upper legislative chamber was irked by allegation against senators in the probe panel, describing it as “irresponsible fabrication and baseless tissues of lies.”
Briefing newsmen in Abuja on Thursday, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Information, Senator Ayogu Eze expressed anger over El-Rufai’s alleged comments.

He said: “Who is el-Rufai to dictate to the Senate how our committee business should be conducted? Who is he to dictate to us? If he has a question to answer it is a straight forward matter. He should come and answer the question. If he has facts he shouldn’t be running around trying to distract Nigerians. He is just causing unnecessary obstruction and distraction. If he has the facts he has the opportunity to come before the panel and bring the facts. He cannot tell us how we run our Senate.

We didn’t tell him how to run his ministry when he was there. Did we?
He warned: “If this campaign of calumny and cheap blackmail does not cease, we would be forced to use the power conferred on us by the constitution to bring the culprit to their proper position.”
Senator Eze said that members of the committee had briefed the national Assembly on development at the public hearing, saying that the legislature would not be distracted.

“Sodangi briefed us. Smart Adeyemi briefed us. After the briefing, we have come to the conclusion that some people who are unsettled by the good work they are doing on behalf of the Senate are doing everything in the books to distract them from this assignment.”

“We want to state categorically that the Senate will not take kindly with anybody who thinks that he lives above an institution like the National Assembly of Nigeria or an irresponsible interference to disrupt a crucial assignment like the one that is being performed by the joint committee on FCT and Housing.

“We just want to use this opportunity to restate our total confidence in the work the committee is doing. We want to state that we are the one that sent them on the assignment and that they are doing it according to the terms of reference that were given them so far.
“We are totally satisfied with what they have done up to this stage. We want to warn that people should use public office to build goodwill.”

Defending senators accused of getting jumbo allocations, Eze said: “It is not true that Sodangi owns 20 plots. He said he owns three plots. The Senate will not take kindly to this kind of intimidation. It will not take kindly to this kind of unethical behaviour, especially on the part of people who have held very sensitive government offices in not too long ago. This is something that the Senate feels very strong about and if this untoward behaviour persists the Senate shall be compelled to invoke some of its powers.

“We have powers to make sure that anybody who is working against the interest of Nigeria is called to order. If there are allegations against anybody, no matter who you think you are, you go to the panel and clear yourself. You don’t wage a war to tarnish the image of the Senate on the pages of newspapers simply because you have the resources and the contacts.”

Meanwhile, one of the witnesses at the public hearing, Umar Abbas, has insisted that members of the Senate committee looking into the land allocation probe and sales of the Federal Government property benefited. He said: “This committee applied and got 58 houses from me in March 2007.”
“Your Committee applied to FCT for houses and you were given.

This is the acknowledgement and the list of the houses approved. So check the document. All the membership of this committee has been given houses. Why should I be seen as the only one benefiting?
“This committee had applied through its Secretary and the letter came to our office through the S. A. to the Minister and we gave you 58 flats.

When the special adviser to the minister was called to testify, he confirmed that the application came to him through the Senate committee’s secretary and a block of flats was approved. He, however, said that some senators rejected the allocation.

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