By Abiemwense Moru
The House of Representatives has mandated its Committees on Foreign Relations and Public Procurement to investigate allegations of corruption in some Nigerian Missions.
The investigation will also cover “the measures to be devised to alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians in the diaspora”.
The House also urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ensure that Nigerian Missions abroad provided counselling and support to Nigerians in time of need.
It also urged the ministry to ensure that the missions operate a 24-hour helpline and desk for Nigerians in the diaspora.
The resolution was sequel to a motion by two lawmakers, Reps. Rita Orji and Sergius Ogun on the “Need to Investigate the Activities and the Procurement Process of Nigerian Embassies/High Commissions to cut Costs and Fight Corruption.”
The lawmakers, while moving the motion, said: ” Nigeria’s High Commissions and Embassies are administratively under the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as such have their individual budgets computed under the Ministry.
They noted that all sums spent by the foreign missions were meant to be subjected to parliamentary oversight because the monies were are provided for under the Appropriation Act passed by the National Assembly.
“Also note the allegations by Nigerians in the diaspora of acts of insensitivity, laxity, negligence and near outright maltreatment by consular staff of Nigerian Embassies/High Commissions across the world which inflict mental torture on them;
“The manifestations of these acts in the bureaucratic bottlenecks in the renewal of expired passports, extortion of money from those seeking assistance or redress and outright insensitivity to the plight of those in dire need .
“This has resulted in the abandonment in a mental home in Turin Italy of one Julie Osamese whose kidney was stolen and the death of Nwadike Stephen Chukwuemeka in a deportation camp in Malaysia, among others.”
The lawmakers said there was a need to investigate the activities of the High Commission and Embassies “including those payments approved and disbursed and the procurement processes being employed by the Embassies and High Commissions”.
“The nation will continually be bled and the sincerity of the government’s war against corruption will be called to question.”
However, the Chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Nnena Elendu-Ukeje, through an amendment, sought the removal of committees of Diaspora and Interior from the investigations.
According to her, the ministry of Foreign Affairs is in charge of embassies/ missions and the ministry is in turn under the supervision of the House committee on Foreign Relations.
“Hence it would only be appropriate if the Foreign Relations Committee and Public Procurement Committee conduct the investigation.”
Members supported the amendment and the committees of Diaspora and Interior were removed from the mandate..
NAN reports that the joint committee to investigate the matter would report back to the house within six weeks for further legislative action.
The motion was unanimously adopted by members through a voice vote. (NAN)