Members of the House of Representatives at a plenary. PHOTO: TWITTER/DOGARA
Walks out firm’s lawyer, grills ex-FCT minister
The House of Representatives Committee on the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) yesterday queried a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, over his interest in the firm that handled the Centenary City project.
At the hearing yesterday of the committee which is probing allegation of irregularities in the project, its chairman, Mr. Herman Hembe, asked Anyim why he was still acting on behalf of the firm even when the project was supposed to be a private sector-driven concern.
He said: “It is curious to note that the former SGF told the President that the Centenary City Plc would be a purely private sector initiative and then turned round to write a letter demanding for the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) from the FCTA even as a public servant. What was his interest in the project that he would be the one asking for the release of the C of O even when the Centenary City people had not met the terms of agreement?
“The former SGF must clear the air on conflict of interest as to why he continued to correspond on behalf of the firm even after the company had taken over the project as private investment.”
He, therefore, demanded that Anyim produce all relevant documents related to the project owned by Basic Start Limited and Company First Limited jointly owned by two persons, namely Mr. Paul Oki and Mrs. Boma Ozobia, with 10,000 shares for each of the companies.
Hembe, who had turned down Anyim’s call on him to step down as chairman of the committee last week, also walked out the lawyer to the firm, Mr. Emeka Obegolu, for displaying “unruly behaviour.”
The lawyer, who appeared alongside the managing director of the company, Odenigwe Ike Michaels, stated that they were at the hearing to make an objection, but Hembe said he would only be allowed to speak at the appropriate time.
Obegolu, who reiterated the allegation of bias against Hembe, noted that it behooved on him to step aside to allow his deputy take charge.
But when it became apparent that Obegolu was not going to yield ground, Hembe read the riot act to him, saying: “You cannot dictate to us how things should be done here. I’m a lawyer like you, so I know the procedure. This is a parliament; you should learn to respect us.”
Members of the committee subsequently directed the security personnel of the National Assembly to walk him out of the venue of the hearing. The MD of the firm followed suit in solidarity.
Besides, the lawmakers subsequently grilled the former FCT minister, Bala Mohammed, demanding why he allocated the Centenary City land on April 10, 2014 before signing the development agreement on April 11 against the guidelines.
Mohammed explained that the practice in the FCT Administration was to make sure that land for any project was made available before signing any agreement, stressing that the issue of time line was embedded in the Land Use Act.