From Tony Akowe, Abuja
The House of Representatives and the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) yesterday disagreed on the legality of the House investigating the activities of the NAF and its subsidiaries for wrong doing.
Nigerian Air Force stunned members of the House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating the alleged use of force against Blue Boulevaid when they told the committee that it lacked the constitutional power to investigate the activities of NAF Holding and NAF Property Ltd, as they were not funded by public money.
But the committee dismissed the position of the NAF, insisting that it was not bound by the rules of court, but by the resolution of the House at plenary presided over by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, directing that the investigation be carried out.
The House had at its plenary in January mandated its committees on Air Force and Justice to investigate the petition written by Blue Boulevard, accusing the NAF of using force against them and reneging in a contractual agreement they had to build a shopping mall at the Mami market in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
When the petition first came up for investigation, the Air Force representatives told the committee that they had not been served with the petition and appealed for a new date to enable them receive service from the petitioner and respond to the issues raised.
However, at the resumed hearing of the petition yesterday, legal counsel to NAF Property, Uche Duruibe, raised an objection to the continuation of the investigation and the chairmanship of the committee by the Chairman of the House Committee on Air Force.
He insisted that if they allowed the petitioner to state their case, it would mean that they had accepted that the Chairman of the House Committee on Air Force, Shehu Koko, should preside over the investigation.
The counsel said they were not comfortable with Koko presiding over the investigation, alleging among others likely bias because the lawyer to Blue Boulevard who signed the petition, hails from the same Kebbi State with the lawmaker.
He said Koko “must excuse” himself from the investigation if it must go on because he was being investigated by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for wrong doing, saying having refused to honour the invitation from the ICPC, he should not be sitting on any investigation.
He claimed that the letter from the House Committee on Air Force requesting the Chief of Air Staff to respond to the petition by the Blue Boulevard was written several days before the House resolution, which was an indication that he would not be fair to the Air Force.
He also claimed that since the petition was not about fraud, but about a contractual agreement between two parties, it was out of the purview of the House to investigate and should have been done before the court.
He said further that what the House was doing was taking over the functions of the court and asked the House to excuse itself from carrying on with the investigation.
He also said that the NAF Holdings and NAF Property were not funded by money appropriated by the National Assembly, but by contributions by personnel of the Nigerian Air Force.
When asked to explain what sections one and two of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, he said he was not able to explain the sections.