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RE: Nothing Laudable about Lloydant’s Puerile Defence – Destiny Emmanuel Nwogu

I have read the response of Lloydant Business Services, one of the firms heavily indicted in the investigations carried out by three different Ad Hoc Committees of the 7th Abia State House of Assembly, on Abia State University, Uturu, (ABSU), Abia State Polytechnic, Aba (AbiaPoly) and School of Health Sciences and Management Technology, Aba, on the operational lapses and alleged malfeasance in the institutions that have nearly grounded most of them, and can only conclude that Lloydant and its sponsors are too desperate to continue to hoodwink Abians about their reckless, irresponsible and deceitful financial operations with the institutions.

One does not expect anything better from a firm that has reportedly collided with extraneous bodies to indecently appropriate to itself funds meant for the growth and development of Abia through some of our public institutions for so long. Such a firm rather than be penitent for its plethora of financial abuses would do anything including maligning public institutions set out to terminate once for all such huge financial impropriety.

In what is styled as a rebuttal to the reports of the Abia State House of Assembly Committees on the institutions, Lloydant had in one breath claimed that: “We are not aware of any investigation of our Company or its activities by the Abia State House of Assembly or any of its Committees” but in the same breath went ahead to state that: “We interacted with Ad Hoc Committees of the Abia State House of Assembly in respect of Abia State Polytechnic, Abia State University and Abia School of Health Sciences and Management Technologies…

“…we provided each of the Ad Hoc Committees with detailed written explanations and documents detailing the scope of services rendered by our company…”

If not that Lloydant is being deceitful and disingenuous, it would not claim that it was not aware of any investigation by the Assembly touching on them and only to go ahead and admit that it interacted with the Assembly’s Committees to the extent that it submitted to it DETAILED written reports about its activities as regards the institutions. This has always been the style of Lloyd, using one falsehood to promote another in an attempt to get away with its alleged fraudulent activities in Abia while making itself appear like a firm on a mission to save when its true intention from the detailed reports of the committees is to milk the State dry through her institutions.

Another question agitating the minds of Abians is why has Lloydant consistently failed to reveal to either the committees of the Assembly and or the general public how much it milks from these institutions except to make sweeping hollow statements without any figures backing them up? The reliance on both internal and external audits purportedly carried out by these institutions do not exculpate Lloydant from the allegation of “criminally extorting funds from the institution”. Beyond these audits which we all know how they go most of the times, can Lloydant actually subject itself to uncompromising and incorruptible bodies like the 7th House of Assembly Committees without resorting to infantile complaints in the media? The answer is no!

It is ridiculous and smacks of stark political illiteracy about how government and its different arms work to try to either leash or gag the 7th Abia State House of Assembly by saying that the Assembly should be “conscious of the scope and limits of their investigative powers as enshrined in the Constitution and will ensure that they act accordingly…” Based on the humongous money it has fraudulently made from Abia as alleged, one expects Lloydant to have in their services, qualified and tested lawyers who should have told them that the Abia Assembly is acting within its constitutional powers in its investigation activities and no form of cajoling, blackmail or name-calling would stop them from getting to the root of the rot in some of our institutions with a view to repositioning them for better services to the good people of our dear State.

Investigations as these are part of the oversight functions of an Assembly, and that is a universal principle.

According to Orji Agwu Uka, in Watkins v United States 354 US 178 [1957] the US Supreme Court in no unclear terms upheld that power of Legislative oversight in the following words: “the power of the Congress to conduct an investigation is inherent in the legislative process. The power is broad; it encompasses inquiries concerning the administration of existing laws as well as proposed or possibly needed statutes. It includes surveys of defects in our social, economic or political system for the purpose of enabling Congress to remedy them. It comprehends probes into the department of the Federal Government to expose corruption, inefficiency and waste.”

Also, and specifically as it concerns Nigeria, the powers of the Houses of Assembly of the various States to conduct investigations are expressly provided for under section 128 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria1999 which provides as follows:

“128 (1) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, each House of Assembly shall have power by resolution published in its journal or in the Official Gazette of the Government of the State to direct or cause to be directed an investigation into –

(a) any matter or thing with respect to which it has the power to make laws, and

(b) the conduct of affairs of any person, authority, ministry or government department charged, or intended to be charged, with the duty of or responsibility for –

(i) executing or administering laws enacted by that House Assembly, and

(ii) disbursing or administering money appropriated or to be appropriated by such House.

(2) The powers conferred on a House of Assembly under the provisions of this section are exercisable only for the purpose of enabling it to –

(a) make laws with respect to any matter within its legislative competence and correct any defects in existing laws; and

(b) expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it.”

The Constitution further provides in section 129 that for the purpose of any investigation under section 128 of the Constitution, a House of Assembly OR ITS COMMITTEE shall have power to –

(a) procure all such evidence, written or oral, direct or circumstantial, as it may think necessary or desirable, and examine all persons as witnesses whose evidence may be material or relevant to the subject matter;

(b) require such evidence to be given on oath;

(c) summon any person in Nigeria to give evidence at any place or produce any document or another thing in his possession or under his control, and examine him as a witness and require him to produce any document or another thing in his possession or under his control, subject to all just exceptions; and

(d) issue 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, neglect; and any fine so imposed shall be recoverable in the same manner as a fine imposed by court of law.

By now, Lloydant should have known that the 7th Abia State House of Assembly is out on a noble mission to clean the Augean stable that has stalled state machinery for so long, irrespective of who is involved and no matter whose ox is gored. The impression being created by Lloydant’s sponsors that the investigations are targeted at their firm is both laughable and infantile. Since the assumption of office of this 7th Assembly, they have embarked on several other investigations including the ones on ASEPA, abandoned estates, border and humanitarian crises, exorbitant school fees charged by some institutions among others, all of which have no connection whatsoever with Lloyd, and the positive results are already showing. Why is it only Lloydant that’s going to the press to confuse the people?

We are tired of the shameful activities of firms like Lloydant which have criminally denied Abians the needed funds for greater dividends of democracy. Rather than its puerile sweeping statements on the Assembly, Lloydant’s sponsors should know that this 7th Assembly is no lame duck; it is peopled by fearless and uncompromising men, and they will do everything within their legislative powers to uproot administrative and financial malfeasance everywhere they can be found in our State so that Abia will know quicker progress. The earlier this fact sinks into Lloydant and its sponsors, the better for them!

What do you think?

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