- By Toby Chuks
Where the hands of an Accuser are clean and his allegations are of pristine intentions, it is the accuser who seeks every means possible to expose the culpable while the culpable does everything possible to frustrate and even stop the process that will expose him/her.
But when the Accuser realises midway into his accusations that those he is alleging things against are innocent and that his accusations might return to haunt him having been a principal factor in his own accusations, he begins to run helter skelter, from pillar to post, and clutching even to straws to save himself from his own fatal errors of misplaced accusations.
This is the case of Obinna Oriaku, a former commissioner for finance in Abia State who initiated a barrage of media campaigns on a purported mismanagement of the Paris Club Refund to Abia State to indict those he loves to loathe for nothing and forgetting that the disbursement of all the Funds to the State, its planned and actual expenditure, all happened under his tenure as commissioner for finance of the state.
In order to properly investigate Oriaku’s relentless media campaign that the Paris Club Refund was mismanaged, the Abia State House of Assembly in exercise of its inalienable constitutional powers according to Section 128(2 b) to “expose corruption, inefficiency of waste in the execution or administration’ of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it”, invited Oriaku to come and shed further light in his accusations to help the House plug such holes through legislation since the House has no convicting powers except the courts. This was done in line with Section 128(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic which states that:
“The powers conferred on a House of Assembly under the provisions of this section are exercisable only for the purpose of enabling the House to:
(a) make laws with respect to any matter within its legislative competence and correct any defects in existing laws.
But Obinna Oriaku has purportedly obtained an order of court restraining the Assembly from investigating him as the commissioner for finance when the Paris Club Refund was received and spent despite the constitutional aim of the House of Assembly’s investigation being to “make laws with respect to ANY matter within its legislative competence and CORRECT any defects in existing laws”.
So, the Assembly is not investigating to convict, rather, they are investigating to correct defects in our laws, supposing Oriaku’s allegations are true. The courts can deal with the rest whenever it’s brought before them. It therefore behooves on Abians of good conscience, to tell Oriaku to answer the summon by the Assembly and not hide behind the curtains of our highly respected courts to deny Abians the opportunity of further enhancing our laws.
Obinna Oriaku cannot run away forever. There’s always a limit to such shenanigans. Our Constitution cannot be subverted just to accommodate the recalcitrance of one man. Section 128(1) of the Constitution states very clearly that:
“Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, a House of Assembly shall have power by resolution published in its journal or in the Office Gazette of the Government of the State to direct or cause to be directed an inquiry or investigation into:
(a) any matter or thing with respect to which it has power to make laws; and
(b) the conduct of affairs of any person, authority, ministry or government department charged, or intended to be charged, with the duty of or responsibility for:
(i) executing or administering laws enacted by that House of Assembly, and
(ii) disbursing or administering moneys appropriated or to be appropriated by such House.
Based on the above, it is clear why Oriaku can only run in the short term but will eventually be properly schooled by the same courts he has run to.
More so, claiming that the House cannot investigate him on the Refund because the case is already in court is a blatant lie by Oriaku because the case in court has no bearing whatsoever with the investigations initiated by the House. The case which Oriaku keeps referring to as being in court is a civil case initiated by one of the consultants for the State to settle the issues of consultancy fees with them and not how the Refund was managed. These are two different issues: indebtedness and alleged mismanagement. The issue of mismanagement is not in court but only the issue of indebtedness of the State to the consultants. But Obinna Oriaku keeps making reference to the court case to escape being investigated.
In any case, why is Obinna Oriaku now suddenly magnanimous to those he has been gleefully accusing in the media when he has been invited to come and indict them in a constitutionally empowered institution like the Abia State House of Assembly where it matters more? Why is he now the one running away from the investigation? Claiming that the Speaker is an interested party in the matter hence makes the Assembly not have rights to summon him is only an excuse believed by the gullible and defended by the pitiably vulnerable. Was the Speaker a government official when the Refund came to Abia? No! Was Senator T.A. Orji the Governor when Abia received the Fund? No! Was Senator T.A. Orji the Governor when expenditures from the Refunds were made? No! Who was commissioner for finance when the Refund was received and expended from the first Kobo to the last? Obinna Oriaku was. So, wherein lies the Speaker’s interest? More so, the Speaker is not the Assembly, he is only one man in the Assembly.
Obinna Oriaku should cease the rare opportunity offered him by the House to further expose those he has been falsely accusing in the media. He is guaranteed fairness especially as none of the ad hoc committee members set up by the House is a PDP member but lawmakers of his own party the APC, and also from APGA. If he is so afraid of his own shadows as to appear before a committee led and peopled by members of his own party, then he should just stop misleading his small band of supporters and do the right thing.
Toby Chuks sent in this piece from Umunneochi, Abia State