The Nigerian Federal lawmakers in the House of Representatives on Monday described as unfortunate President Goodluck Jonathan’s comment on the credibility of the probes being conducted by the House during his Sunday’s media chat. Stopping short of saying they were disappointed in the President, the legislators said Jonathan had been the “highest beneficiary” of the House resolutions, hence the least they expected from him was to encourage his ministers to respond to parliamentary inquiries. The President had said during his Presidential Media Chat that the House was conducting politicized probes and that his petroleum resources minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, had appeared before the lawmakers up to 200 times.
Mohammed said Jonathan did not consider the House intervention as politicised when he wanted to succeed his late boss, former President Umaru Yar’Adua.
He said, “We recall the Doctrine of Necessity; this House contributed to his (Jonathan’s) stability in office.
“We hold the office of Mr. President in high esteem, but it is unfortunate that he said we conduct politicised probes. The House is about accountability; Diezani has to appear before us because we cannot ask questions in her absence.
“She has to come; she has to be accountable to the Nigerian people.
“As legislators, we are also accountable to our electorate.”
He said the House could summon any member of the President’s cabinet, including Alison-Madueke, “1000 times” if the legislators needed to do so in the course of their investigation.
Mohammed said, “There is no limit to the number of times a minister can appear before the House for the purpose of accountability. There are many investigations or issues being considered by the House.
“That a minister had appeared before over a particular issue does not mean that when summoned over a different subject, the minister cannot appear again.
“Besides, on this issue of expenditure on jets, she (Diezani) has yet to appear before the House; she has not appeared on the matter before.
“Therefore, Mr. President should not use her previous appearances over entirely different subjects, as an excuse for her refusal to answer questions in respect of the expenditure on jets.”
Alison-Madueke has refused to appear before the House Committee on Public Accounts probing the N10bn she reportedly spent in two years to charter a private jet, Challenger 850, for her trips.
Meanwhile, some Nigerians on Monday reacted angrily to the President’s alleged attempt to cover up Alison-Madueke and her counterpart in the interior ministry, Abba Moro, during his Presidential Media Chat on Sunday night.
Jonathan, who was asked to comment on the allegations of corrupt practices levelled against some of his ministers, had said that nobody was above mistakes and that if he were to be acting based on reports on each of them, “no one will stay for more than six months in office.”
Also asked to comment on the attempt by Allison – Madueke to use the court to stop her proposed probe by the parliament, the President had said he was not aware that the woman was in court.
Specifically Jonathan had said, “I don’t think that the Minister of Petroleum Resources had gone to court. I am not aware that she has gone to court to stop any investigation”
But an Abuja-based lawyer, Mr. Segun Williams, in an interview on Monday, expressed disappointment at the reaction of the President when the judge that allegedly gave the ex parte injunction, said the order was not intended to stop the proposed probe of the minister by the House.
He said, “How can the President said that he was not aware that the petroleum minister had gone to court when the judge that allegedly gave the ex parte motion claimed that he was misquoted. The judge said his order was not to stop the probe and it was reported in all the newspapers.”
He also noted that the declaration by the President that he had contacted the Attorney – General and Minister of Justice to look into the frequent invitations of ministers by the National Assembly, was an attempt to shield his cabinet members.
Williams noted that a declaration by Jonathan that “the Minister of Petroleum Resources had appeared before the parliament more than 200 times” was a clear indication that he was having a special interest in the minister’s continued stay in his cabinet.
A resident of the FCT, Alhaji Mohammed Ladan, expressed disappointment at the failure of the President to mention the glaring case of corruption against his Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro.
Ladan said, “The President should have sacked the Interior minister or asked him to resign instead of being given a fresh mandate to determine foreigners who are illegally living in the country.”