LEGISREPORTS NG – There was an exchange of words yesterday at plenary over allegation of a bribery of $50,000 said to have been given to each Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members of the House of Representatives by the executive arm of government, to induce them to quash a debate on the $9.3 million cash for arms deal.
The situation which nearly degenerated into a rowdy session, started when Rep Albert Sam-Tsokwa (PDP-Taraba) complained that he woke up yesterday to see newspapers awash with stories of the walk-out by the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the debate on the arms deal and allegations that PDP members were given $50,000 each.
“As the House chairman of the Rules and Business committee, this issue is not to my knowledge. No money was received by any member of my party or myself,” Sam-Tsokwa said.
Expressing sadness that the allegation breached his privilege as a member of the House, the legislator attributed its peddling to a fellow member, who he did not name.
He explained that: “we are all aware that infrastructure motion can be raised, seconded and voted upon. This is not the first time issues like this have been brought to the floor of the House and rejected.”
Condemning the walk-out, Sam-Tsokwa urged the House to probe the allegation claim by referring the matter to the Ethics and Privileges committee.
However, Rep Ali Madaki (Kano, APC), who owned up to being the person who told a journalist over the telephone about the bribe stood by his words but amended his fact by saying that he was aware that each of the PDP member got $20,000 instead of $50,000 widely reported Wednesday.
Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha however admitted that the House “is at trying times.” According to him, “We should be careful as circumstances like this could lead to casualty. It is not my wish that such should happen. It is regrettable that despite the fact that I bent over to take the motion, there was still a walk-out,” he said.
At this point, Madaki raised a point of order, but was shouted down by his colleagues. Then, Rep Samson Osagie (Edo, APC) intervened and urged that Madaki be allowed to speak.
When he stood up, Madaki said the ‘member’ that Sam-Tsokwa was referring to was him. He admitted telling a journalist that he heard on good authority “that PDP members were given $20,000 each.”
His remark threw the chamber into a noisy mode until the presiding officer moderated and ruled that the matter be investigated by the Ethics and Privileges committee, which was mandated to report back to the House in two weeks.