Senate Disbands Committee Over Nominee Screening Fraud

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Senate Disbands Committee Over Nominee Screening Fraud Empty Senate Disbands Committee Over Nominee Screening Fraud

Post  nex on Thu Jul 29, 2010 8:17 pm

The senate, on Thursday, disbanded its committee on communication over alleged fraud in the committee’s screening of the recently appointed chairman and members of the board of National Communications Commission (NCC).

The disbandment of the committee followed allegations that the chairman of the committee, Sylvester Anyanwu (PDP, Imo State) conducted the screening alone, at night, and later claimed that six members of the committee were involved.

He was also accused of signing the screening report on behalf of two of the committee members whom he claimed attended the screening exercise, without their consents.

The scandal was blown open by Umar Abubakar Argungu (PDP, Kebbi State), a member of the committee who expressed shock at Mr. Anyanwu’s claim that the committee had screened the nominees.

“I am a member of the committee and there was no screening,” Mr. Argungu said. “I am surprised the chairman is presenting them for confirmation this morning.”

Mr. Argungu said the committee had, the previous day, postponed the screening following the failure of the committee to get security report on the nominees before dark.

“The point Argungu raised is very serious. I am saddened by this development and I am truly disappointed in the committee. This is an embarrassment to the entire senate and I feel very sad about this; committee members accusing each other of fraud! At the end of this exercise, this committee stands dissolved,” announced the senate president, who was visibly saddened by the scandal.

Mr. Anyanwu, however, apologised for his actions and appealed for leniency, but his appeal was too late to get mercy. The disbandment of the committee, although with disciplinary intent, is the first deliberate shake up of committee in the senate since they were constituted in 2007.

Following the disbandment of the committee, the senate assumed the responsibility of the dissolved committee and embarked an on-the-spot screening for the nominees, who were all at the galleria of the senate chamber watching the debacle.

The nominees appeared before the senators, unprepared and answering questions in general terms, but were in the end confirmed for the jobs.

Those confirmed include: Peter Egbe Igoh, chairman; Eugene Ikemefuna Juwah, executive vice chairman; Okechukwu Itanyi, executive commissioner; and Mohammed Mustapha Bintube, non-executive chairman.

Budding ethnic bigotry

Before Mr. Argungu broke the scandal about screening, the senators continued to promote their ethnic bias that budded the previous day. The previous day, the senators condemned the appointment of two justices of the Supreme Court and the imbalance in the number of states in the various geopolitical zones. In the case of the NCC nominees, senators from the Northern zone opposed the appointment of Ikemefuna Juwah as the executive vice chairman (CEO) of the commission. They preferred Bashir Gwandu, the acting executive vice chairman and CEO of the commission.

The bigotry was, however, set aside after the senate held a closed door meeting to resolve it.

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