By: Joy Odor/Abuja
Senator representing Bayelsa West in the National Assembly, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, yesterday frowned at the screening of ministerial nominees who did not submit their certificates of assets declaration before appearing for screening by the Senate.
Rising through a point of order during the ongoing ministerial screening, the lawmaker said that such practice was in breach of the 1999 Constitution (as amended)
According to him, the Constitution stipulated that for every nomination by Mr. President that supposed to occupy any office especially the ministerial nominees, they have to submit their certificates of assets declaration.
Ewhrujakpo, however, observed that the Senate had, since Wednesday it commenced screening of the ministerial nominees, been screening those that did not present their certificates of assets declaration as required by law.
He further stressed that since this administration had laid so much emphasis on fight corruption, it must not just be a lip service but should be practically demonstrated in carrying out all its functions at all levels of governance.
The lawmaker insisted that since the ongoing exercise was just a screening stage, he would insist at the confirmation stage that the nominees who had submitted their assets declaration certificates should do so, failure of which, he would request that they should be disqualified.
He also pointed out that his observation was not in any way a mark of witch-hunt against the affected persons but rather, to ensure that the provisions of the law were followed, by strictly adhering to due process.
Addressing journalists on the matter, he said: “the constitution requires the President, Vice President, the service chiefs and heads of extra-ministerial departments to declare their assets before they are screened.
“But I noticed that it was not the trend with this screening and I decided to draw the attention of the Senate President to this fact. A few of them have complied but majority of them have not complied.
“It is a breach of the constitution. If we are fighting corruption, we must be seen to be doing so. We should know what they are worth before coming to office and what they are worth at the end of their tenure.
“We are not witch-hunting anybody. Before we go into the confirmation stage, this is just the screening, we will take all the documents and at that point, if the certificates of asset declaration are not there, we will draw the attention of the Senate to disqualify such candidates.”