OVERVIEW OF: Reps committee risks lawsuit over PRODA probe
The Board Chairman of Projects Development Agency (PRODA), Comrade Daniel Onjeh, on Thursday, threatened the House of Representatives Committee on Public Procurement, with a lawsuit, should it failed to retract claims of fraud against him within one week.
PRODA, an agency of government has been under probe by Reps Committee on Public Procurement opened investigation into activities of the agency which is under the Ministry of Science and Technology in Enugu.
The Committee indicted the board chairman of financial misappropriation in the course of their probe, but frowned at the claim, the Chairman has asked the panel to retract the claims by next week, or face being dragged to court, by his lawyers.
The Committee also maintained that Onjeh was involved in perjury, alleging that he forged a letter head of PRODA and interfered with procurement processes.
According to the Committee, he was also suspended by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, as the head of the agency’s board.
But reacting in a chat with journalists immediately after the Committee hearing in Abuja, Onjeh denied that he was suspended as PRODA Board Chairman.
He said “at no time, was I suspended as Chairman of PRODA; I’m still the Chairman and even a letter by the Committee (of the House), inviting me for the hearing, addressed me as such.
“I have already briefed my lawyers, and have written to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, telling him to at the next plenary(Tuesday next week), retract the claims that I was removed as Chairman of the Board of PRODA, or I will go to court”.
He made a categorical statement that it was only President Muhammadu Buhari that can remove him from office
Speaking on investigation of his activities, he noted that he never shunned invitation for investigation, but he only demanded to be given sometime.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila who personally declared the hearing open, urged the Committee to be discreet, while he expressed optimism that the outcome would reflect the wishes of the people.
Earlier, the Chairman of the panel, Rep. Nasir Ahmed, disclosed that the Committee wasn’t out to witch hunt anyone, but to “investigate the Procurement Deception, Staff Victimization and Ongoing Management Problem In Project Development Agency (PRODA), Enugu under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology“.
He said “I am actually shocked, that they have refused to appear before us. With or without them, the investigation will continue and we will do a thorough job”.
Mr. Edet Akpan, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry and representative of the Minister of Science and Tech, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, admitted before the committee, that the absentee Acting Dg, was fully briefed of the hearing.
He however, couldn’t say why he decided not to come, just as he admitted before the Committee, that Mr. Onje was no longer the Chairman, and that his correspondence to the House using the agency’s letterhead, amounted to forgery and impersonation.
Also at the hearing, was Mr. Babatunde Kuye, Director at the Bureau for Public Procurement, who represented the Director General and Mr. Nathan Abia- Bassey, a former Acting Dg of PRODA.
Mr. Akpan, said “Comrade Dan Onje, is no longer the Chairman of PRODA; he was asked to step aside”.