The House of Representatives is set to probe alleged violation of the PenCom Act as well as illegal appointments and misuse of public funds by the commission.
The resolution followed the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon. Benjamin Wayo yesterday in which he noted that 19 months after the constitution of the PenCom Board by President Muhammadu Buhari, the list had not been sent to the Senate for confirmation, resulting in the nboard’s inability to carry out its statutory duties.
Hon. Wayo, who posited that the President was ill-advised to appoint an individual who was the Managing Director of a pension firm to head the Board, added that this is in contravention with a stipulation in the PenCom Act.
According to him, as the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo at the time, rectified the matter and appointed someone else but added that 19 months after, the Board is still yet to commence duties.
The lawmaker further alleged that the current Acting Director General had increased the number of Directors from 10 to 17 and jacked up their collective (hers inclusive) benefits and entitlements by 300% without due process.
In his contribution, Hon. Gabriel Onyenwife said that as a democratic system of governance, the strict adherence to the rule of law cannot be overemphasized adding that the PENCOM Act stipulates the constitution of a Board for the running of the affairs of the Pension Office and any step in violation is an illegality, such acts of illegalities should be deemed void and of no consequence.
On his part, leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila noted that the law recognises presumption of regularity and confirmed that the President had sent the said list to the Senate who has refused to consider and confirm the list.
Gbajabiamila who sued for balance of equity, however wondered if the pensions that had been paid out to pensioners all these while constituted illegality considering the circumstances. “ Does it mean the pensions also paid are illegal and the benefits of these Nigerians withdrawn?”, He queried.
Also at yesterday’ plenary, the House resolved to probe the non-performance of NIMASA to ensure the safety of lives and property of citizens on the Bonny Waterways.
The motion was sponsored by Hon. Randolph Brown who decried the rising cases of piracy and robbery on the said waterway without visible efforts by NIMASA to prevent reoccurrence of such attacks that have even claimed lives.
The House also passed for second reading a Bill for an Act to Repeal the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007 and Establish the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Commission.
In his lead debate, the leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila said the bill seeks to repeal the former Act and establish the Commission which would aid in the drive for the diversification of the economic base of Nigeria.
According to him, the proposed Commission would ensure competition, discourage diversion and sabotage prevalent in the mining sector, oversee foreign participation and investment and ensure quality regulation of the entire sector to enforce adequate penalties when due.
Supporting the bill, Hon. Idris Ahmed who said that the effects of the proposed Commission would be more far reaching especially to rural areas, added that Ministries run by Ministers who are Politicians are highly liable to compromise along lines of personal gain and favoritism.
On his part, Hon. Tahir Monguno while recalling the potentials of the mining sector as highlighted by the Minister at the beginning of the life of the present administration, pointed out that little action had backed up those words which according to him, has made most of those potentials of non-effective.
Similarly, Hon. Edward Pwajok harped on the dwindling of oil as a national resource adding the proposed Commission would better regulate the activities of the mining sector to ensure the revenue from the sector gets to government.
In the same vein, Hon. Nnenna Elendu- Ukeje noted that the establishment of the Commission would lend credence to the Legislative Agenda of the House of Representatives and ensure the hope of wealth creation and economic diversification is felt by their constituents even as it would boost the confidence of both local and international miners to practice in a well regulated, competitive and consequently profitable mining sector.
Meanwhile, the House witnessed more defections as four legislators dumped their respective parties to other new platforms.
Hon. Mohammed Kabir Ajanah from Kogi defected from the ruling APC to PDP; Hon. Rabiu Garba left the PDP to SDP; Hon. Salisu Garba and Hon. Adekunle Akinlade from Ogun state dumped the APC to SDP and APM respectively.