Barely 24 hours after Senate President Ahmad Lawan warned the National Assembly would no longer brook disrespect from appointees of President Muhammadu Buhari, and one of such appointees, the Executive Director (Projects), Dr. Cairo Ojuigboh, of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) alleged that federal lawmakers were also beneficiaries of Covid-19 palliatives, the Senate has challenged him to provide evidence to back up his claim or retract the allegation with apologies to lawmakers.
Ojougboh in an interview with a national daily had accused the National Assembly of being “culpable” in the sleaze contracts awarded by the commission.
He also alleged that the Senators and members of the House of Representatives were beneficiaries of COVID-19 palliatives from NDDC.
“In the National Assembly, each of the Senators got N20 million, while the House of Representatives members got N15 million for COVID-19 from the National Assembly,” Ojuogboh said.
But the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Ajibola Basiru, in a statement issued on Tuesday in Abuja, denied the allegation made by the Executive Director that members of both chambers of the National Assembly received the sum of N20m and N15m each as COVID-19 palliative from the Commission.
He, therefore, challenged Ojuogboh to provide the names of lawmakers who were beneficiaries of the said palliatives.
The statement reads: “The Senate views with grave concern a statement credited to Dr Cairo Ojougboh, the Executive Director, Projects of the NDDC who alleged that National Assembly members received varying sums of money as COVID-19 palliative. The Senate hereby disclaims the allegation in its entirety.
“The Senate categorically denies that any Senator collected the sum of N20 million or any sum whatsoever from NDDC as Covid relief fund for any purpose whatsoever.
“The Senate challenges Dr Ojougboh to publicly provide evidence of his claim and list the names of the Senators he allegedly gave the alleged sum.
“Failure to provide evidence of his claim, the Senate hereby demands immediate retraction and public apology from Dr Cairo Ojougboh,” the Senate Spokesman said.
Recall that the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmed Lawan, on Monday reiterated his warning to appointees of President Muhammadu Buhari against disrespecting the National Assembly.
Senator Lawan while responding to questions from State House correspondents in Abuja shortly after President Buhari inaugurated the Executive, Legislative Party Consultative Council at the Presidential Villa said: “Coming to your second-leg of the question that recently we had some appointees on the executive side walking out or maybe saying things, I believe that that should be the end of it; we believe that we should work together,” the lawmaker stated.
“For us in the National Assembly, I think what has happened has happened and I pray that nobody goes to the National Assembly to do the kind of things that some people did before because that will be disrespecting the President and, of course, abuse of the National Assembly and we are not going to tolerate that.”
He noted that even President Buhari had warned his appointees against disrespecting Federal lawmakers.