On Tuesday, the Senate Ethics, Code of Conduct and Public Petitions Committee again failed to submit a report on the N3.4 billion scam allegation Senator George Akume made against Senate President, David Mark.
That is the fourth time it could not deliver in less than one month.
Mark has for the second time offered to step aside to enable the Chamber deliberate on the report.
“I will step down to allow my colleagues debate the report whenever it is brought before the Senate,” he stated at the sixth national seminar on economic crime held on Tuesday in Abuja, organised by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“If I’m found wanting, nobody will tell me before I would leave office, but if I’m not, those making these allegations should be courageous enough to make a public apology to the nation for misleading Nigerians.”
He pledged to take a cue from President Umaru Yar’Adua and lead his colleagues by example. He urged Nigerians to report to the EFCC those without visible means of livelihood who make huge donations at social events.
“If we all lead by example, as I would do when I leave here, we would all have begun the process of re-creating a new Nigeria; because the war against corruption has to be total. If we don’t take it to its logical end, we would all be the loser.”
Mark assured the gathering of the resolve of the Upper House to take its oversight responsibilities more seriously.
“We shall close all the avenues for leakages as this Senate will be a different body. We shall follow the process of utilisation of appropriated funds very seriously because the absence of this in the past had led to over-inflation of contracts.”
Back in the Senate, the probe committee Chairman, Omar Abubakar Hambagda, had promised on Monday that the report, signed by only four of 11 panel members, would be submitted to the Senate on Tuesday.
The committee is mandated to probe the source of the story that Mark spent N400 million to renovate his official quarters, and that N2.5 billion was smuggled into the 2007 supplementary budget.
Those who declined to sign the report include Lee Maeba, Anthony Agbo, Andrew Babalola, Grace Bent, Shola Akinyede, and Tawal Wada.
Their stance forced Hambagda to seek an extension of time at Tuesday’s plenary, after Senate Leader, Teslim Folarin, moved a motion asking him to lay the document.
“The report of the committee has been put together but some members are yet to sign it.We shall go out right now and finalise the report. We will present it tomorrow (today),” Hambagda said.
Babalola explained that the report is mired in controversy, and requested an extension of time to enable all members contribute to it before it is submitted.
“The report which should have been submitted this morning became a cantankerous thing among members. We have been able to persuade (Hambagda) that we must meet once again before submitting it. A lot of things have been said that infringe on the privileges of each member of the committee.
“The report is controversial. I therefore beg the Senate to give us extra hours to meet again and then submit the final report.”
National Security and Intelligence Committee Chairman, Nuhu Aliyu, reiterated that not even half the members of the committee signed the report. He pleaded with the Senate to grant the committee a final extension of time.
Folarin surmised that “there is no report ready for submission – but (Hambagda) has assured us that the report will be ready by tomorrow (today).”
Nonetheless, about five members of the committee members have alleged that Hambagda compromised the investigation. They said his utterances during and after committee meetings tilted towards favouring Akume.
– Daily Independent