By Alex Okoro (www.orderpaper.ng)
Nigeria’s House of Representatives has been thrown into another sensational scandal as Chairman of its ad-hoc committee probing the activities of the National Pension Commission (PenCom), Mr. Ehiozuwa Agbonayinma (APC, Edo) has abruptly resigned his post.
Mr. Agbonayinma stepped aside from the probe citing bribery attempts by his colleague, Mr. Wole Oke (PDP, Osun) who allegedly fronted for the management of PenCom to stifle the N9trillion probe.
The embattled representative who has been trending in the social media over the sack of his daughter, Deborah, from PenCom over alleged certificate forgery, said his resignation was to preserve the image and integrity of the House of Representatives.
Speaking at the hearing of the committee Thursday at the National Assembly, the Edo state rep described Mr. Oke in very uncomplimentary words before handing over the continuation of the probe to his deputy, Mr. Iboro Ekanem.
He said: “Hon. Oluwole Oke a member of this Parliament and a ranking member threw decorum to the wind when he took it upon himself and through his deliberate actions to derail the activities of the Ad-hoc Committee; his conduct is morally and parliamentarily unacceptable.
“From inception of the investigations his actions were infamous and uncomplimentary befitting of a lawmaker which is to walk in the path of Justice. He made overtures in subverting the mandate of the ad-hoc committee which was disregarded, on the 20th of March, 2019.
“He brought the Ag. DG of PenCom and the Director Operations to my office to request to know what it will take for me to scuttle the investigations; my reply was that PenCom should submit requested documents and that the committee intends to work judiciously as directed in the resolution of the House.”
The lawmaker further alleged that “the body language of the Honourable member is that of a commissioned agent and with a directive to stifle the investigations and subvert the report of the ad-hoc committee. It is very sad that a ranking parliamentarian is involved in these unwholesome acts.”
He stated that the committee wrote up to 10 letters to PenCOM since December, 2018 requesting information and that “letters were also communicated to Pension Funds Administrators (PFA’s), Pension Fund Custodians (PFC’s), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Office of the Secretary of the Federation, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), NLC, TUC and various stakeholders and government parastatals.”
On the sack of his daughter by PenCom, he said: “I have been trending on the social media, print and electronic media on the sack of Deborah Agbonayinma by the management of PenCOM over presentation of fake credentials. As a lawmaker of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a parent, I will never condone illegality and at all times stand on the path of Justice.
“I have been smeared by the conduct of a child who is an adult, married and over 30 years of age, who is responsible for her actions and inactions. I will always walk on the path of justice and the oaths I took as prescribed by the seventh schedule to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to function honestly in the discharge of my duties.”
Mr. Agbonayinma further alleged that “the management of PenCOM is on a path of war because of the ongoing investigations by the ad-hoc committee; using public funds to blackmail and threaten the committee through some members by saying I am hard on the commission because of the sack of my daughter.
“It is germane to note that the commission sacked her on the 27th February, 2019 and the ad-hoc committee started its investigations on December 12th, 2018. It is scandalous to link PenCOM probe to my daughter’s sack.
“The truth about the PenCOM funds must come out. They are trying to deviate from the real issues. The Committee is about to round up the investigation and present its report before the House. We are resolute to do a thorough investigation without fear or favour.
“There have been a systematic and orchestrated attempt to frustrate the patriotic and determined effort of this Ad-hoc Committee. Mr. Speaker this fight is not against EJ or my daughter, this is a fight gainst the cohesive sanctity of this House.”
The public hearing was however adjourned sine die, following the non appearance of officials of PenCom.
In a swift reaction to the allegation, Mr. Oke, who is chairman, House committee on Public Procurement denied the the allegation via a text message.
“How and in what way. Let him substantiate his allegations with facts. Such allegation is false and untrue.
“He (Agbonayinma) should not drag me into his woes and that of his daughter over their allegations of certificate forgery. The committee has constitutional powers to do their job and bring their report to the floor. I have no business with PenCom. I don’t own any PFA nor a director in any