The house of representatives has accused Amina Shamaki, permanent secretary, ministry of science and technology, of alleged legislative contempt.
Shamaki was said to have restrained the house committee on science and technology from performing their duties during a recent public hearing.
At plenary on Wednesday, Beni Lar, chairman of the committee, told lawmakers that the permanent secretary also ordered some officials of the ministry attending the hearing to leave the hearing or get queried.
The said hearing was on some bills seeking to give legal backing to some federal agencies that do not have laws establishing them.
Lar said: “On May 31, when the committee on science and technology was holding a public hearing, we noticed some strange movements; the permanent ministry was walking along the corridor and later came in and sat down.
“I directed someone to tell her to come forward and sit at the front but the message I got in response was that she said she won’t come forward.
“Not long after, we learnt she summoned top officials from the ministry who came for the hearing outside and ordered them to leave. And that they were given letters and forced to sign that if they attended the hearing again, they will be queried.”
Lar said by such act, the permanent secretary committed “legislative contempt of highest order” and “she has been disobeying all the known civil service rules.”
The lawmaker asked the house to invoke section 14 of the legislative houses (powers and privileges) act against Shamaki for the alleged contempt.
The said section states: “A person who: assaults or obstructs a member of the legislative house while in the execution of his or her duties … [or] within the legislative house; … [or] who refuses to abide by the laid down proceeding of a legislative house or committee commits a contempt of the legislative house.”
Sub-section three of the section proposes a “fine of N500,000 or imprisonment for a term of two years or both” if the person so accused is found guilty.
Other lawmakers who spoke on the issue also condemned the permanent secretary’s alleged act and urged the house to call her to order.
Nkem Uzoma from Abia state described the act as a “sacrilege.”
“The matter should also be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agencies. We should set an example with this otherwise we would be battling with these kind of issues. If this is not handled seriously, something worse will happen to us,” he said.
Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the house, said there is need to invite the permanent secretary to hear her side of the story “to give room for fair hearing”.
Thereafter, the house summoned the permanent secretary and subsequently referred the matter to the committee on ethics and privileges for investigation.
Efforts to get the permanent secretary’s reaction were unsuccessful as the official line of the ministry’s media office was not available when this report was filed.
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