•Reps order probe
FROM Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja
The House of Representatives yesterday ordered a probe into the allegation by the All Progressives Congress(APC) that $1million bribe was given to some of its lawmakers to defect to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) .
Five APC House members on Tuesday defected to the PDP, resulting in the latter reclaiming its majority status in the Lower Chamber. The defectors are Lawal Shehu Bichi (Kano), Abdulsalam Adamu (Kano), Sani Umar (Zamfara), Ibrahim Shehu Gusau (Zamfara) and Umar Bature (Sokoto).
Interim National Publicity Secretary of APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, reportedly alleged that the defectors were bribed by the PDP to join it. Similarly, Nasarawa State Governor Tanko Al-Makura also claimed that over N50 million was offered to the defectors.
Raising the matter yesterday on the floor, Hon Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers) urged the House to investigate the allegations that the defectors were bribed to cross-carpet to PDP. The motion split the House as APC legislators tried to shout Chinda down. They shouted: sit down! Sit down ! But PDP lawmakers threw their weight behind him and urged him to continue his delivery.
Speaker Aminu Tambuwal upheld the call for a probe of the allegations and directed the Committee on Ethics and Legislative Matters to investigate the bribery scandal. The committee is to report back to the House within two weeks.
However, addressing newsmen on the claims, Deputy House Leader, Hon Leo Ogor, accused APC of crying wolf because it has lost out in in its dream of controlling the chamber.
He said: “First and foremost, it is very alien that today, APC is crying wolf. When 37 members of the House defected to the APC, are they saying that they were bribed? It is very unfortunate that APC today is singing a different tone.
“They are now finding themselves where they actually belong. Secondly, I think it is important that this their so-called political grandstanding is taken outside the National Assembly.
“They are not helping the electorate. The electorate elected members of the House to come here and represent them. And when they came, they swore to an oath of allegiance. Their oath of allegiance is to defend the constitution and serve the Nigerian people, not serving political interest of some political parties”, he said.
“Those allegations are totally unfounded, nobody can substantiate them. At the moment, they are more like people losing a battle, they are drowning in the middle of an ocean”, he said.
Meanwhile, the House yesterday continued with the debate of the 2014 budget. Tambuwal announced that the debate will be concluded today.