Bankole’s Exoneration The N2.3 Billion Car Scandal

by Bolaji Aregbeshola

The recent exoneration of Bankole and other principal officers by the report of the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges is quite expected. The House of Representatives committee’s reaction to Keyamo’s petition already indicated that the committee would report nothing but lies when presented to Nigerians. Besides there was no way a true judgment could be delivered when the House is investigating allegations against itself. The outcome of the committee’s report is no doubt in a bid to save the face of the House of Representatives which sees itself as a distinct chamber from the Senate.

It is obvious that the purchase of 360 peugeot cars by the House last year was inflated but the leadership of the House has decided to hide the truth from Nigerians. The manner in which the speaker of the House, Mr. Dimeji Bankole, members of the committee on Ethics and Privileges and some other members conducted themselves in the N2.3 billion car saga was contrary to the advice of Hon. Farouk Lawan that the credibility and integrity of the House should be paramount in the heart of every member.

Bankole’s statement “let Keyamo be making noise, the House will sort it out” showed that the House of Representatives speaker and his members were not remorseful after the fraud was uncovered by the controversial lawyer. The entire membership of the House cannot deny any knowledge of the inflation in the price of the cars purchased but perhaps they have all agreed to make no noise about it. If the House of Representative members had no skeleton in their cupboards, they would not have threatened to deal with Barrister Keyamo according to newspaper reports. These men would also not question the lawyer’s rights to confront them. The actions and utterances of some members of the House of Representatives during keyamo’s appearance before the committee on Ethics and Privileges show how arrogant and unquestionable most Nigerian legislators have become.

Members of the House of Representatives whom the integrity group and House Spokesman, Hon. Eseme Eyibo reportedly alleged were fueling crisis in the house using Lagos lawyer Festus Keyamo could not have called upon the controversial lawyer if there was no fraud in the purchase of the purported five cars each for the 27 committees of the members of the House of Representatives. The allegations leveled against the House were far from being a plot to destabilize it as claimed by some members.

The House of Representatives definitely have a skeleton in its cupboard besides the document that was presented by Barrister Keyamo would not have been released by those who allegedly lost out in the sharing of House Committee’s positions if there was no anger. The Ethics and Privileges Committee Chairman’s recommendation that a sanction be imposed on some members for their opposition role confirms Nigerian’s suspicion that the N2.3 billion scam was real.

While many Nigerians are wallowing in abject poverty, the House of Representatives thought it necessary to buy cars worth N6.2 million each for the oversight function of men and women who were meant to serve us. The leadership of the House also purchased bulletproof cars worth N52.8 million each for the speaker and his deputy. Worst of it is that due process was not followed in the award of contract as it reportedly did not pass through competitive bid. It is a criminal offence to award a no bid contract. Only leaders who foist themselves on the people by rigging commit such a crime. The leadership of the House must therefore face the consequence of this gross violation of the Constitution and abuse of power.

Apparently, I do no think the question of how Barrister Keyamo got the document for the car purchase should be the concern of most members of the lower chamber, rather, what they should be bothered about is how revealing is the document? Members that are trying to find out how the lawyer got the document are doing so because the document obviously revealed a price differential of N1.1 million per unit totaling about N418 million, hence, the House of Representatives should stop taking the Nigerian public for a fool with their barefaced lie.

The launching of a full scale investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) despite the release of the committee’s report is an indication that the truth about the N2.3 billion fraud scandal is yet to be revealed. The EFCC and not the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges should have been allowed to look into the matter but little wonder the House insisted on investigating into the scam using an in-house panel. And now that the House has failed to present Nigerians with the truth regarding the scandal, it is hoped that the EFCC would eventually uncover all the facts surrounding the car deal and refuse to be frustrated by the House as alleged by Mr. Festus Keyamo.

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