Group faults postponement of investigation
Ugwumadu said that the Committee on Ethics and Privileges erred in postponing the investigations because of the absence of some guests.
President of the group, Mr Malachy Ugwumadu, reacted shortly after the investigative hearing was postponed due to the absence of Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama.
Rep. Nicholas Ossai (Delta-PDP), Chairman of the house’s Committee on Ethics and Privileges, conducting the investigative hearing into the scandal, had announced the postponement of the session on Thursday.
He said that the minister, who was expected to present the evidence of the U.S. Ambassador, Mr James Entwistle, because of his diplomatic immunity to public probes, travelled out of the country.
Ossai said that the session would hold on Wednesday.
The lawmakers being investigated for allegedly soliciting sexual favours while on official assignment in the U.S. with seven other colleagues in March, 2016 are Muhammed Gololo (APC-Bauchi), Samuel Ikom (PDP-Akwa Ibom) and Mark Gbillah (APC-Benue).
``You cannot predicate the postponement on the basis of immunity enjoyed by diplomatic agents, including the American Ambassador,’’ he said.
He, however, said that it behoved on all Nigerians to defend the rights of the accused lawmakers if the American Embassy failed to back their claims with evidence.
``If it is not true that the American Embassy, by extension the American government, is not sure of what they are saying, we as a nation must rise to defend such an attack.
``If on the other hand they provide substantial evidence, including video which they claimed they had, we will rise against our so-called representatives who have abdicated their responsibility of legislating but engaged in other filial activities.
``So, I think that there are two sides to it and that we didn't exhaust this opportunity irrespective of the absence of the invited guests,’’ Ugwumadu added.
He said that the outgoing the U.S. Ambassador’s direct letter to the Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara, without passing through the formal diplomatic channel was less important than the content.
``In law, the source of evidence is not as important as the content of that evidence.
``So, the issue is not whether it came from the back door or the front door, what is the issue is the allegation.
``We must be able to arise with the technicalities of this and deal with the very disturbing allegation,’’ he said.
Ugwumadu stated that the country was in dire need of other aspects of development processes beyond the lawmakers’ foreign trips and engaging filial feelings.
``We are talking about a legislature that will rise up to the occasion and deal with the fundamental issues of legislation and bring about the legislative activities that can turn around the fortunes of this country,’’ he added.
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