The Minister of Sports in Nigeria, Solomon Dalung, has denied allegations of contract scam as well as invitation to appear before the country’s national assembly to defend himself.
Sports Village Square gathered from a media statement issued by the Special Adviser on Media to the minister, Nneka Ikem Anibeze, the minister denied knowledge of a contract worth N182m said to have been awarded by the then Ministry of Youths on November 27, 2013 – two years before he assumed office.
The press statement from the office of the minister has it that syndicated newspaper reports credited to the Committee on Public Petitions of the Nigerian House of Representatives stated, that Barrister Dalung risked being arrested because he allegedly refused to appear before the committee after seven invitations were communicated to him.
But the minister’s aid explained that Barrister Dalung has been on medical vacation and therefore could not have received any summon.
“Barrister Dalung who is currently on medical vacation however denied receipt of summon by the committee as well as the said contract”, the media release stated.
The syndicated publications, Sports Village Square gathered, stated that the committee chaired by Rep Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, PDP, Abia also summoned the ministry’s Permanent Secretary and Director of Procurement to appear alongside the Minister to explain their roles over an alleged bribery scam involving a contractor, Solbec Limited.
“I have never been invited by the National Assembly committee and never received any invitation from the committee in respect of the allegations published.
“The contract was said to have been transacted between 27th, November 2013 and October 2015 by the then Ministry of Youth Development while I took an oath of office in November 2015.
“I am not even aware of the said transactions as I don’t even know the contractor involved or even the company.
“I did not mandate anybody to collect anything from anybody and so, not in the position to defend it. The whole allegation is coming to me as a surprise because before proceeding on medical vacation, I cannot remember receiving such petition”, the minister’s statement read.
The Minister however challenged the committee to present proof of summons and copy of the petition.
“There are laid down procedures of doing things and I believe that NASS (National Assembly) is conversant with these practices common in democratic societies.
“As a law abiding citizen, I will never disregard invitation from NASS. If I have genuine reasons for not making it, I will communicate formally. The whole process looks like acting a script which is outside the confines of the law.
“The power of arrest of NASS is a shield intended to protect the integrity of the legislature and not a sword to hunt perceived or imaginary enemies.
“The threat is too harsh and lacks the flavour of legislative complements because choosing a period of my absence on medical vacation is the worst form of injustice against humanity.
“However, whenever, I resume from my medical vacation, I will report to the Inspector General of Police or Sergeant at Arms for journey into detention. But for now, I am responding to my health”, the media release quoted the sports minister to have said.
The committee chaired by Rep Uzoma Nkem- Abonta, PDP, Abia however stated in the syndicated report, that the minister has been given till May 30, 2017 to defend the allegations levelled against him by the contractor.