Reps Begin Investigation Into Illegal Sale Of Assets Belonging To FG

The House of Representative Ad-Hoc Committee on the Disposal of Public Property on Monday began an investigation into the Federal Ministry of Water Resources over the disposal of assets belonging to the 12 River Basin Development Authority in 2018

The committee has also summoned six notable agencies to appear before it to explain their role in the disposal or auctioning of public assets in their custody.

The affected agencies according to the committee chairman include the Nigeria Ports Authority NPA, Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, Nigeria Railway Corporation NRC, Nigeria Customs Service NCS, Anambra/Imo River Basin Development Authority, Osun River Development Authority and the Federal Ministry of Water Resources.

Managing Directors of the River Basin Development Authorities in the country who appeared before the committee on Monday said the Ministry was responsible for the sale of property in 2018 because the agencies had no Governing Board.

The leadership of the RBDA told the committee that the Ministry were responsible for the advertisement and selection of Auctioneers who were responsible for the auction of the properties, saying most of the questions about the auction could only be answered by the Ministry.

The Chairman of the committee and House Leader, Prof. Julius Ihonbvere (APC-Edo) said the committee was not satisfied with the explanation from the Managing Directors, adding that the Committee has no choice but to invite the Ministry.

Ihnovbare said “I want to assure you for now that we are not very satisfied and that is because you did not preside over this process.

“We are not satisfied with the disconnects in the contents in some of the documents; we will require that you come back after we deduce some of those documents directly from the ministry on behalf of your agencies.

“We will also invite the ministry to deal with us directly,” he said.

The House Leader said the committee is out to investigate the alleged illegal auctioning of government by Nigeria Ports Authority, Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Nigeria Railway Corporation, River Basin Development Authority, Railway Corporation and Nigeria Customs.

According to him, the committee will rely on the relevant sections of the Constitution, the Standing Orders of the House and the inherent jurisdiction of the National Assembly to achieve its mandate.

“In the course of this work, we have written letters to all the agencies concerned requesting information on the subject matter, and many of you did not bother to respond to our letter.

“We hope to physically visit the Agencies, examine your books and conduct a physical inspection of all public properties acquired to determine the ones sold and procedures adopted for the exercise.

“As the representatives of the Nigerian people we will deploy all constitutional means to ensure that we achieve the mandate of the House,” he said.

Hon. Ihonvbere had cited the provisions of sections 88, 98 and 65 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) to assert that the National Assembly has the constitutional powers to invite any person or government agency that is in charge or intended to be in charge of the administration of public funds in which the parliament has the powers to make laws.

Earlier, the Managing Director of Lower Niger Basin Development Authority, Dr Adeniyi Aremu said he and other colleagues were appointed in 2018, adding that the process of auctioning of the items in their custody had already commenced before the assumed duty.

He explained that the auction process began in 2017 and that because the authorities did not have boards at the time, the process was conducted by the Ministry of Water Resources.

Aremu said that documents on the process that are in the possession of the agency had been submitted to the committee, while the entire details of the process are with the ministry that conducted and presided over the auction process.

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