Hon. Philip Agbese, the deputy spokesperson of the House of Representatives, has refuted the reported indictment of the Chief Executive Officers of Rural Electrification Agency, REA, and Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, in alleged fraud.
The lawmaker representing Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadibo Federal Constituency of Benue State said the 10th House was guided by rules and regulations and would be fair to all.
Recall that the House of Representatives Committee on Anti-Corruption, in a letter dated 11th October 2023, summoned the Managing Director of REA, Mr. Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad, over an alleged multi-billion-naira fraud allegedly perpetrated under his watch.
The summons followed a petition by a Civil Society Group, Centre Against Injustice and Domestic Violence (CAIDOV), alleging the perpetration of several improprieties by the Ahmad-led management team, including a purported N1.5 billion fraud in the electricity agency recently.
The Managing Director consequently appeared before Hon. Kayode Moshood Akiolu-led investigative Committee on allegations of fraud, criminal conspiracy and diversion of public funds levelled against him and about 15 others.
However, Agbese said contrary to some perceptions about the Green Chamber, the House of Representatives was meant for all Nigerians.
Addressing journalists shortly after Tuesday’s plenary, the deputy spokesman said it was importabt to give the “accused a fair hearing, do due diligence to the hearings and form a balanced opinion and judgement, for fairness and justice.”
He said: “The 10th House of Representatives, under the leadership of His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, like you all know, is a House guided by rules and regulations. We have our procedure, like every other Parliament across the world, so when issues are raised, they are to be considered meticulously and of course, we will always ensure that justice is done.
“For instance, you mentioned the issue of Tetfund, the committee on Tetfund had actually done its investigation. They have submitted their report, and those of you who, one way or the other, may have access to the report can see that the Tetfund was not indicted in any way.
“You mentioned the issue of Rural Electrification Agency; petitions were raised by members of the society, and some of these petitions were directly sent to public account, public petition and even the committee responsible for the oversight of that agency.
“You see, for us in the 10th Assembly, we are not desperate to criminalize any individual for doing his or her duty as delighted by Mr. President.
“I think in the case of the REA MD, he has been able to appear before these individuals (committees), he has cleared himself before the public account, he has cleared himself before other committees like anti-corruption, crimes and all of that.
“So, if you come with your scorecard and you are able to demonstrate such before Parliament that you are not guilty of whatever thing that anybody has raised against you; then fine.
“Of course, we all know the principle that you cannot listen to one party to judge. Secondly, there is another Parliamentary principle of law that, when two persons are involved in an issue, you cannot listen to one party alone.
“The REA Managing Director has appeared before some of these committees; listening to both parties, I think we aligned ourselves with the judgement of most Nigerians, that this a young man who has actually been able to perform creditably well with the responsibility saddled on him by Mr. President. So, I just want to use this opportunity to tell Nigerians that we are not witch-hunting anyone. We are here for all Nigerians.”