Following the recent order given by Plateau State Government to its appointees and civil servants to shun any invitation by the state House of Assembly in connection with the assembly’s investigation of financial misappropriation allegation levelled against the government, a lawmaker has warned that any of such persons that fail, refuse the invitation risks arrest.
In a statement, the lawmaker said: "Any civil servant, under the employment of the Plateau State government, who after having been summoned by the Plateau State House of Assembly to attend a session of its committee investigating allegations of financial impropriety against any government official in the state, fails, refuses or neglects to do so definitely does so at his or her own risk.
“Such a defaulting staff is liable to being arrested, if not prosecuted, without any recourse whatsoever to the governor of the state.”
But a source from the government, however averred that “the government is determined to stop any probe on the basis of an unsubstantiated petition which has no aim other than to rubbish the government and in the long run, the House of Assembly."
He added that the guideline for submission of petition was never followed and the manner in which the petition was being handled by the assembly smacks of nothing more than blackmail.
Speaking further, the government aide said it was common sense that if in five years the government received slightly above N200 million, the cumulative receipts should have been in the range of N5 billion and wondered where the N50 billion figure emanated from.
On the government circular directing appointees and civil servants not to answer any summon by the assembly, he said government was not lawless but was only following a court order in that regard.
He said: “In addition, the governor has personally written the EFCC to probe his administration as a clear sign that he is not afraid of any scrutiny.”
He also said both the executive and the legislature are one and the same government working for the good of the people except for some elements bent on causing disaffection between the two.
But citing Section 129(1.d) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the Lawmaker said, the section provides for the issue of a warrant "to compel the attendance of any person who, after having been summoned to attend, fails, refuses or neglects to do so and does not excuse such failure, refusal or neglect to the satisfaction of the House of Assembly or the committee, and order him to pay all costs which may have been occasioned in compelling his attendance or by reason of his failure, refusal or neglect to obey the summons and also to impose such fine as may be prescribed for any such failure, refusal or neglect; and any fine so imposed shall be recoverable in the same manner as a fine imposed by a court of law.”
He added: “Further to the foregoing, under sub-section 2 of the same section of the Constitution provides that a summons or warrant issued under this section may be served or executed by any member of the Nigeria Police Force or by any person authorised in that behalf by the Speaker of the House of Assembly of the State.”
The Lawmaker said, “Until now, many people have always been confident that Governor Jang would gladly jump at the slightest opportunity to present himself for any investigation, especially by the state legislature or the anti-corruption agencies so as to proudly showcase his fiscal discipline and financial integrity and to prove his critics wrong.
He said, “an incorruptible leadership needs not fear any investigation to the extent of interfering with it through draconian directives. Since his assumption of office in 2007, such investigations have been very rare in the House. The world is watching as history now beckons on the legislative arm of the state to stamp it foot and act decisively.”