Eyebrows were raised on the floor of the Green chamber yesterday when a motion by UhechukuNnam-Obi (PDP, Rivers) directing the Presidency to, within 30 days make available to the House a detailed report on the total amounts and assets that have been recovered from public officials since May, 2015 was withdrawn with the leave of the House of Representatives. No reason was offered for the withdrawal which denied lawmakers to contribute to the debate and arrive at a resolution over the issue.
Withdrawal of motions or bills was not strange at plenary but it was normally handled by the sponsor.
Chairman, Rules and Business Committee would however handle the procedure only if the lawmaker is not in the chamber.
Against the norm, when the motion, listed number nine on the Order paper was read by Speaker YakubuDogara, rather than the sponsor move for the withdrawal himself, it was the acting Chairman, Rules and Business Committee, Bode Ayorinde (APC, Ondo) that was asked to proceed.
The acting Chairman moved for the withdrawal of the motion giving no reasons.
The Speaker obliged him and ruled in favour of the withdrawal.
Also against the norm and strangely, moments after the Speaker banged the gavel, the sponsor of the motion was seen storming out of the chamber angrily wearing a lean face.
The lawmaker, in his debate as contained in the Order paper was to argue that it has become expedient for the parliament to have knowledge of the total recovery and what it has been used for considering the level of interest that trailed the recovery effort by the government.
He commended the efforts of the Federal Government to recover funds that were looted from the nation’s treasury by fraudulent officials and diverted into private accounts and those kept in hidden government accounts, and those funds and properties run into billions of Naira.
According to him, in order to ensure proper monitoring of recovered assets and funds, a Presidential Committee on Recovered Assets was set up under the leadership of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and membership include the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Inspector-General of Police, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, the Department of State Service (DSS) and Presidential Advisory Committee on War Against Corruption.
“We however have to take cognizance of the fact that considering the importance of the recovered funds to the revival of the nation’s economy and the interest being shown by many Nigerians in the matter, there is a need for the Federal Government to submit to the National Assembly Reports on the amount and assets so far recovered and how they are being ploughed back into the economy,” he noted.
Besides the 30 days ultimatum he proposed, Nnam-Obi also urged the Federal Ministry of Justice to ensure that quarterly reports on the various amounts and assets to be recovered subsequently as proceeds of corruption are submitted to the National Assembly.
Committees on Special Duties and Financial Crimes were to be mandated to ensure implementation as part of the proposed resolution.
The motion however still has a chance for future presentation since it was not debated.
When The Nation approached Nnam-Obi for his comments on the withdrawal and his walk out, he said, “no comment”.