Reps PenCom probe chairman steps down over pressure

PenCom management team at the probe

By Dele Anofi

The investigation of Chairman of the House of alleged misappropriation of N9 trillion by the National Pension Commission (PenCom) by the House of Representatives claimed its first casualty on Thursday.

Chairman of the ad-hoc Committee Johnson Agbonnayinma stepped down his position, claiming external and internal pressure on him to scuttle the investigation.

At a press briefing, Agbonnnayinma said his daughter, Deborah, who was alleged to have worked with PenCom with fake certificates is an adult who should be responsible for her actions.

While he said the investigation of PenCom and the resultant pressure was not about him or his daughter, the lawmakers noted that it was an organised movement with some members being used against the Committee.

He said: “Please, be aware that I have been trending on the social media, print and electronic media on the sack of Deborah Agbonayinma by the management of PenCOM over presentation of fake credentials.

“As a lawmaker of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a parent, I will never condone illegality and at all times stand on the path of Justice.

“I have been smeared by the conduct of a child who is an adult, married and over 30 years of age, who is responsible for her actions and inactions.

“I will always walk on the path of justice and the oaths I took as prescribed by the seventh schedule to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to function honestly in the discharge of my duties.

“The management of PenCOM is on a path of war because of the ongoing investigations by the Ad-hoc Committee, using public funds to blackmail and threaten the Committee through some members by saying I am hard on the commission because of the sack of my daughter.

“It is germane to note that the Commission sacked her on the 27th February, 2019 and the Ad-hoc committee started its investigations on December 12th, 2018.

“It is scandalous to link PenCOM probe to my daughter’s sack.

“The truth about the PenCOM funds must come out. There has been a systematic and orchestrated attempt to frustrate the patriotic and determined effort of this Ad-hoc Committee.

“This fight is not against me or my daughter, this is a fight against the cohesive sanctity of this House.

“Government is continuum, irrespective of who chairs the Ad-hoc Committee, I am optimistic a holistic investigation will be done devoid of prejudiced.

“As I step aside as chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee to investigate the Activities of PenCom from April 2017 to date, I seek the support of the Speaker, members of the Committee and stakeholders as well as PenCOM in the discharge of the Ad-hoc Commiunee mandate as prescribed in the House Resolution.”

He said the investigation met very stiff oppositions and challenges immediately after its inaugural meeting with various motions for the rescission of the motion setting up the Ad-Hoc Committee moved by members of the House.

According to him, the sponsors for the rescission of the motion were commissioned by management of PenCOM to subvert the directives of the House and derail the activities of the ad hoc Committee, a development he described as being at variance with the Standing Orders of the House, particularly Order 8 Rule” Notice of Motions”.

He said a member of the ad hoc Committee threw decorum to the wind when he took it upon himself to derail activities of the Ad-hoc Committee with unparliamentarily remarks and several overtures to subvert the mandate of the Ad-hoc Committee.

“From our Findings the body language of the Honourable Member is that of a commissioned agent and with a directive to stifle the investigations and subvert the report of the Ad-hoc Committee. It is very sad that a ranking parliamentarian is involve in these unwholesome acts. This is the hand of Esau but the voice of Jacob.

“The Ad-hoc Committee wrote series of letters to PenCOM from December, 2018 and has so far written 11 letters to PenCOM requesting information’s and submission of Memorandum to the committee.

“Also, note that letters were also communicated to Pension Funds Administrators (PFA’s), Pension Fund Custodians (PFC’s), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Office of the Secretary of the Federation (SGF), Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Inion Congress (TUC) and various stakeholders and government parastatals. It may surprise you to note that our first Public Hearing was held on the 7th of February, 2019”.

Meanwhile, in a swift reaction, the member alleged to have been used against the ad hoc Committee, Oluwole Oke, who is also the Chairman, House Committee on Public Procurement denied the the allegation through short text message.

It reads: “How and in what way? Let him substantiate his allegations with facts. Such allegation is false and untrue.

“He (Agbonayinma) should not drag me into his woes and that of his daughter over their allegations of certificate forgery.

“The Committee has constitutional powers to do their job and bring their report to the floor. I have no business with Pencom. I don’t owe any PFA or a Director in any.

“If there is any lawmaker that PenCom hates it’s me because of my Legislative activities sponsoring bills that exited the Armed Forces and Intelligence Communities.”

The Nation Newspaper

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