The National Assembly has vowed to take severe action against anyone scandalising the legislative institution in its quest to carry out constitutional oversight of ministries, departments and agencies of government (MDAs).
Senate spokesperson, Senator Ajibola Basiru (APC, Osun Central), made this known Tuesday night while featuring on a Channels TV ‘Politics Today’ programme, which was monitored by our correspondent in Abuja.
The warning came on the heels of an allegation by the acting Executive Director (Projects) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, that members of the National Assembly were paid millions of Naira as COVID-19 palliatives by the interventionist agency at the peak of coronavirus outbreak in the country.
It reports that the Senate had few weeks ago deliberated a damning report on the alleged financial recklessnes by the interim managers of the NDDC, and consequently passed resolutions seeking immediate dissolution of the interim management committee (IMC) of the Commission and refunds of monies misappropriated, among others.
Meanwhile, Senator Basiru had earlier on Tuesday issued a press statement to debunk the allegation, which also attracted a clarification from Dr. Ojougboh later same day, denying ever accusing the federal lawmakers of receiving COVID-19 palliatives from NDDC.
But hours later on the TV programme, the Senate spokesman said he wondered why it took Ojougboh almost 48 hours before retracting the false accusation against the lawmakers, insisting that federal lawmakers couldn’t have benefited from any COVID-19 palliative having donated 50% of their March salaries to the fight against the dreaded coronavirus disease.
“The story went viral yesterday (Monday) and one wonders why it took about 48 hours for Dr. Ojougboh to come up with the retraction.
“I think he was possibly reacting to our statement which categorically stated that allegation from any quarter that National Assembly members collected any dime for COVID-19 palliative is a lie and wicked assumption in that regard.
“I am a Senator of the Federal Republic, I did not receive a kobo and I also know that none of my colleagues in the National Assembly receive a kobo as COVID-19 palliative.
“It is very important to say that the idea of scandalising the Nigerian Senate and the entire National Assembly any time we decided to exercise our power of oversight, is really mind-boggling. We may have to take legislative action on such baseless allegations,” Senator Basiru said.