House threatens to issue bench warrant on Akunyili

Dora Akunyili, Information and Communications Minister.

The House of Representatives’ Committee on Communications yesterday threatened to issue a bench warrant on the Information and Communications Minister, Dora Akunyili following her repeated failure to appear before it.

The chairman of the committee, Dave Salako (PDP, Ogun), said it had to resort to it since Mrs Akunyili refused to appear before it to explain the circumstance surrounding the abandonment of the rural telephony projects across the country.

Mr Salako noted that in the last five months, the committee had invited the minister eight times but she did not honour the invitations.

According to him, she was invited on August 17, September. 10, 12 and 17, October. 3, 20 and 28 and Dec. 2, 2010.

He stated that the minister, on one occasion replied and said that the committee’s invitation did not get to her yet it was acknowledged by her aide.

“Each time we write to invite her; she will backdate the response and give all form of excuses. We had exhausted all avenues but it seems, she was not ready to yield” he said. “Here we are again, the Minister is not here neither does she send any representatives to the committee to answer all allegations and issues surrounding the abandoned rural telephony projects” Mr Salako said.

Decision time Friday

Mr Salako, after a unanimous resolution, to invoke section 89 (1) (d) of the 1999 constitution which gives the Parliament the power to issue a warrant to compel the attendance of any person, said the committee will inform the minister on Friday about its resolution.

The lawmaker also said that if after the letter the minister refuses to appear on Tuesday Dec. 14, the Committee will seek the approval of the Speaker, Dimeji Bankole to issue a warrant of arrest on her as empowered by section 89 (2).

By Festus Owete

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