The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has berated a coalition of civil society groups, for questioning the National Assembly for going on recess during ongoing probes it embarked on.
In a joint statement issued over the weekend, the CSOs had called out the Ahmed Lawan and Gbajabiamila-led assembly for prioritising their seven-weeks holiday over the ongoing investigation into alleged corruptions against some government officials and agencies.
The coalition condemned the assembly for “failing to sit for 181 days as required by the Nigerian constitution”.
Mr Gbajabiamila, speaking with journalists at the State House on Monday, after the inauguration of the APC tripartite consultative committee, a body made up of legislative and executive members, said their decision to go on holiday amidst investigative hearings is normal.
“Recess has only one meaning in the dictionary. You are either on recess or you are working. I have perhaps been one of the longest serving members in the House. I have never known of a situation, I’m yet to be proven wrong, when on an annual summer recess, members are working, conducting public hearings, doing investigations. I’m not talking about any other recess. It’s a different thing when you close plenary and committees are still working. There is a big difference. But in the summer, we go on recess,
“Now, because there is Covid and people are forced to stay in, it’s no excuse to continue work the way we continue.
“Unfortunately, sometimes you hear of investigative hearings that even the leadership is not aware about. Investigative hearings that have not been backed by resolutions of the House. That is a conflict in our procedure,” he said.
Mr Gbajabiamila said “that there is corruption in the country does not mean the courts will be hearing cases while on recess even though they have one or two courts opening for administrative purposes.”
“There must be a method in every organisation. You cannot say that because you are a civil society, therefore, things should break. No. That is not how democracy works. It’s not how democracy works at all.
“To paint a clearer picture, we are only doing what is in keeping with what has been done when I got to the House,” the Speaker said.
He said the assembly can reconvene “when there is a matter of urgency”.
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