Reps summon Water Resources Minister over illegal auction of govt property

Elizabeth AtimeSeptember 4, 20233 min

Rep. Ihonvbere said the committee will conduct a physical inspection of all public property acquired within to determine those sold and procedures adopted for the exercise.

The House of Representatives has summoned the Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof. Joseph Usev, over alleged illegal auctioning and disposal of public property under it.

The summon was issued by the chairman of the House ad hoc committee probing “the Disposal of Public Property”, Rep. Julius Ihonbvere, at the commencement of the investigative hearing on Monday.

In his opening remarks, Rep. Ihonbvere (APC, Edo), said the investigations play an important role in the legislative function, and therefore, vowed to unravel the extent to which federal properties have been auctioned by Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government.

He added that the investigation into the disposal of public property by some government agencies between 2010 and 2022 was with a view to unraveling the extent of the illegal sale of public property, and non-remittance of revenue realized into the Consolidated Revenue of the Federation.

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”I wish to state on behalf of the entire members of the committee that we are duty-bound and committed to discharge the assignment according to the ethos and rules of the House of Representatives.

“On Thursday 6″ July 2023, the House of Representatives considered a motion on the Need to Investigate Illegal Auctioning of Property of Federal Republic of by Nigeria Ports Authority, Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Nigeria Railway Corporation, River Basin Development Authority, Railway Corporation and Nigeria Customs since (HB. 36/07/2023). ‘’After exhaustive debate and consideration, the House set up an AdHoc Committee to investigate the matter and revert with recommendations.

 “This task, to me and the entire members of this ad-hoc committee, is a very onerous one as the committee’s recommendations will be deep, thorough, and comprehensive; hence we cut short our annual recess to holistically address the matter.”

Ihonvbere, who is also the House leader, said the committee will rely on the relevant sections of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, (as amended), the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives, and the inherent jurisdiction of the National Assembly to execute the assignment.

“In the course of this work, we have written letters to all the agencies concerned, requesting information on the subject matter, and many of you did not bother to respond to our letter. We hope to visit the Agencies physically, examine your books, and conduct a physical inspection of all public properties acquired to determine the ones sold and procedures adopted for the exercise.

“As the representatives of the Nigerian people, we will deploy all constitutional means to ensure that we achieve the mandate of the House. I will drive this process in cooperation with my colleagues to the satisfaction and the expectations of the people. In the course of this assignment, we will look at extant laws including the code of ethics governing the operation of the public service,” he said

He further advised Chief Executives of agencies invited to the hearing to give the Committee the necessary cooperation to enable them to achieve their goals.

Meanwhile, the Managing Director of Cross River Basin Development Authority, Engr. Bassey Nkposong, informed that the agency had nothing to auction as most of its equipment was vandalized during the End Sars Protest of 2021.

Nkposong also disclosed that the auctioning of their property was carried out by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources.

In response, Rep. Ihovbere summoned the Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation to appear before the Ad-hoc Committee on Tuesday, to explain the accusations as raised.

Heads of agencies that appeared before the committee include, the Managing Directors of the Upper Benue River Basin Development Authority, Cross River Basin Development Authority, Lower Niger River Basin Development Authority, Benin Owena River Basin Development Authority, Hadejia Jam’amare River Basin Authority appeared before the Ad-hoc committee.

Elizabeth Atime

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