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House of Representatives

Members of Nigeria’s house of representatives have taken exception to the failure of the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba and the minister of defence, Bashir Salihi Magashi, among others, to honour their invitation over the horrendous attack on a Kaduna bound train on Monday night.

Idris Wase, deputy speaker of the house, who spoke at a meeting on Wednesday over the failure of some government officials to honour the invitation of the lawmakers, took exception to the development.

The house of reps had invited Babagana Monguno, national security adviser (NSA); Magashi, minister of defence; Isiaka Amao, chief of air staff; Yusuf Bichi, director-general, Department of State Services (DSS); Usman Baba, inspector-general of police (IGP); Hadi Sirika, minister of aviation, and Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transportation.

It had also invited the director-general, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority; managing director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN); managing director, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), and general manager, Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC).

However, at the meeting on Wednesday, the public officials were absent and sent in their representatives instead.

Wase expressed displeasure over the non-appearance of the invited public officials and declined to allow their representatives to make presentations.

“We do not have any doubt regarding your capacity and your role. As operational officers, you have the intel in terms of what has to be done, but I’m constrained as the deputy speaker to continue the meeting because the accounting officers are the ones that are supposed to be here while you give them the necessary support,” he said.

“I am saying with a heavy heart. No matter the assignment our generals are handling, I believe the parliament requires a listening ear. This is the house of the people. I am not happy expressing my disappointment.

“In all the agencies, none of all the chief executives that were invited came. Maybe we are considered to be jokers, but we are not jokers.”

Abel Enitan, permanent secretary of the ministry of aviation, said Sirika is currently abroad on an official assignment with the knowledge of the president.

Responding, Wase said: “Don’t use the name of Mr President. This institution is not under the presidency; it is an institution of its own.”

O.T. Akinjobi, a representative of the minister of defence, said his boss was in a meeting summoned by the president over the attack.

”The expeditious nature of the assignment demanded that they hold the meeting immediately and they have been in session since last night up to this time,” he added.

But unsatisfied, Wase described the reason as an excuse.

“All these are excuses as far as I am concerned. The situation is like blackmail to the government. We are losing the only pride that we can showcase — that critical infrastructure that is about to be destroyed is one of the legacies of this administration,” he said.

“As a parliament, we have cooperated to ensure the safety of our people. So, these are excuses that are not taken by the parliament.”

A representative of FAAN said the director-general is expected back in the country on Thursday from the US, TheCable reported.

On his part, Sanusi Lemu, deputy inspector-general of police in charge of finance and administration who represented the IGP, said his boss respects the parliament which is why he sent a representative.

”It is in Nigerian parliament that you summon accounting officers that they won’t come. It doesn’t happen in other democratic climes. It is not a favour done to us. If they are here, they are here to give an account of what they are responsible for. And here is the only place they can render a proper account,” Wase responded.

“The crafters of the constitution know the reason why they put us to do the scrutiny oversight. The president doesn’t have that time. We are the ones to ask questions and our questions must be answered. It is an aberration.

“Let’s begin to do the right thing. This country belongs to us. If there is synergy in operation, this thing would not happen.”

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