The House of Representatives Committee on Ethics and Privileges on Monday concluded public hearing on its investigation of a lawmaker from Kano, Abdulmumin Jibrin.
At the resumed hearing on Monday afternoon, Mr. Jibrin failed to appear before the committee. He is accused of breaching the privileges of members.
Nicholas Ossai, the chairman of the 11-member committee, said Mr. Jibrin had been accorded enough privilege to defend himself.
Mr. Ossai said there was no reason why Mr. Jibrin should not appear before the committee since his demand that the proceeding be conducted before members of the public had been met.
“He asked that we invite media, civil society organisations, student unions, members of the Nigerian Bar Association and some university lecturers, which we did from the first day,” Mr. Ossai said.
The committee was convened by the House on September 21 after a lawmaker, Emmanuel Oker-Jev, moved a motion seeking the suspension of Mr. Jibrin for allegedly breaching members’ privileges by distributing internal House documents to the media.
The speaker, Yakubu Dogara, whom Mr. Jibrin accuses of budget fraud, said the Kano lawmaker, through this action, had inflicted damage to the image of the National Assembly.
Mr. Jibrin indicated over the weekend that he would not appear before the committee, citing impartiality and questioning the independence of its members.
This contradicted Mr. Jibrin’s earlier statement in which he gave conditions that Mr. Ossai cited as the only ground under which he would honour the committee’s invitation.
During the sitting, Mr. Ossai gave the clerk of the committee 30 minutes to make efforts to reach Mr. Jibrin.
The clerk said he tried to contact Mr. Jibrin through phone call and text message, without success.
“We assured him that, as a member of this committee, he would be given fair hearing. The committee also went out of its way to make sure that this proceeding is made public. I think this committee has been seen to have observed the dictates of the Constitution on the matters of fair hearing,” Mr. Ossai said.
“It is a duty for this committee that at all time Nigerian are carried along and we have done that.”
Mr. Ossai said he had challenged Mr. Jibrin or anyone else to come forward with evidence showing that he had compromised or expressed bias over the scandal. He offered to willingly recuse himself from the committee in the face of such proof.
Mr. Ossai told newsmen after the hearing that his committee would analyse evidence before forwarding it findings to the House in the shortest time possible.