Ministerial screening Senate panel grills nominee over petitions against him

The committee chairman, Sen. Sam Anyanwu, after merging the petitions, urged the nominee to defend himself on the myriad of allegations against him.

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Prof. Anthony Onwuka. play

Prof. Anthony Onwuka.

(Daily Post)
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The Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition on Wednesday in Abuja, grilled the ministerial nominee from Imo, Prof. Anthony Onwuka over petitions challenging his nomination.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Sen. Attan Achonu (PDP Okigwe), on Tuesday at plenary, submitted over 10 petitions challenging the nomination of Onwuka.

The committee chairman, Sen. Sam Anyanwu, after merging the petitions, urged the nominee to defend himself on the myriad of allegations against him.

The petitioners had alleged that Onwuka, as Vice- Chancellor of Imo State University, Owerri, between 2000 and 2005, approved the procurement of a retirement bus for himself rather than a car.

The petitioners also questioned his approval of N 800,000 for repair of the fence of his house when he was the Vice-Chancellor.

They also alleged that the court had indicted him on some of the allegations.

They also alleged that the ministerial nominee, being an in-law to Gov. Rochas Okorocha was also from the same Orlu zone as the governor.

The committee members queried the nominee on the contents of the petition.

They sought to know if it was morally right that he, being an in law to the governor and being from the same Orlu zone, be nominated for ministerial position.

However, in his response, Onwuka said that that he preferred a bus to the Peugeot 406 car the school had proposed to buy.

He said that his decision was based on the fact that he did not like Peugeot 406 car, adding the bus he opted for was cheaper in price.

The nominee added that Peugeot 406 car, being his official car at the time was expensive to maintain.

The nominee told the committee that while the Peugeot 406 car was to cost N4.8 million, the bus cost N 3.8 million.

He said that he was right in approving N 800,000 for the reconstruction of the fence of his official residence as it was within his approval limit as the Vice-Chancellor of the University.

"I see my nomination as a nomination from Mr President and not from the governor; I was nominated on my own merit.

"I am my own person and I was nominated as my own person, not as the in-law to the governor,” he said.

He added that the final verdict on the case against him was that the white paper indicting him was thrown out.

Onwuka wondered why his detractors still made reference to the white paper which had been nullified.

The committee, thereafter, went into a closed-door session as the petitioners who were also invited were not on ground to defend or ratify their petitions.

The Chairman of the committee said that the committee would use its discretion to invite the nominee if the need be.

He added that the committee also awaited the response of the petitioners, to honour the invitation of the committee to defend their petitions.

NAN reports that the nominee is the immediate past Secretary to Imo Government and was the Director-General, Rochas Okorocha Campaign Organisation.

Other members of the committee are; Sen. Obinna Ogba (PDP Ebonyi Central), Sen. Binta Garba (APC Adamawa North) and Sen. Jeremiah Useni (APC Plateau South) among others.

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