…Anyim, Bala Muhammad accuses Hembe of bias
Members of the House of Representatives committee on Federal Capital Territory ( FCT) were engaged in a free for all argument during an investigative hearing on the $18billion centenary city project.
This is just as the immediate Secretary to the Government of the Federation ( SGF) Anyim Pius Anyim, and the immediate past Minister of the Federal Capital Territory ( FCT) Senator Bala Muhammad accused Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Herman Hembe of being insensitive and rude, and conducting the hearing with ulterior motive.
The committee alleged several infarctions in the agreement signed by the office of the SGF and management of the Centenary City Company Plc.
According to the committee, the spirit of the said agreement violates the federal governments gazette on land swap programme which ought to be the guideline for the project.
The committee also established that the former Minister, Bala Muhammad signed the Right of Occupancy and the Certificate of Occupancy of the land on the same day, in violation of provisions of the gazette.
According to Hembe, the lifespan of the project implementation as contained in the gazette should be between 24 to 48 months as against 60-120 weeks stated in the contractual agreement.
He also noted that the private developers were not allowed to sell any portion of the land until it attains 35 per cent development level, but the company was also granted a waiver in that regard.
Hembe added that that there was no evidence that the company paid the 15 per cent of $18billion expected as initial payment for the development of the city.
Meanwhile, Anyim while expressing reservations about the invitation sent to him by the committee clerk noted that the manner of invitation denigrates his person as a former Senate President and Chairman of the National Assembly.
“Mr. Chairman, if you want me to appear before you, I have no issue with that, but I cannot accept any attempt to subject me to disrespect. You cannot ask a committee clerk to invite me to appear before you, it is unacceptable. Even you, Mr. Chairman is not qualified to sign such letter of invitation to me. Please if you need the attention of any former chairman of the National Assembly, get the clerk of the National Assembly to sign such letter,” Anyim said.
The former SGF who accused Hembe of inadequate understanding of the concept of centenary city, said he was ready to discuss the project.
“Mr. Chairman, if you do not understand the Centenary City Project, I will not blame you, you may as well not understand this new National Assembly Complex you are enjoying today, you may wish to know that I midwife the conception and the design of this new complex alongside National Assembly committee set-up for that purpose,” he said.
Also, former Minister, Bala Muhammed noted that the committee had inadequate understanding of the project, adding that he received a letter from the Presidency on the 21st October 2013, which permitted him to vary former President Goodluck Jonathan ‘s initial directive on the project.
A heated argument ensured among members when the member representing Ohaozara/Onicha/Ivo federal constituency of Ebonyi State, Hon. Linus Okorie presented questions on the investigation and was ruled out of order by the Committee Chairman, Herman Hembe.
The question was to the effect that a later Presidential directive on the project allows the use of government’s fund, as against Hembe’s believe that it was meant to be a 100 per cent private sector investment.
Hembe during the hearing noted that President Goodluck Jonathan approved the project as purely private sector driven, guided by the Lang Swap gazette of the FCT.
“Former President Goodluck Jonathan approved paragraph 8 of the letter, which is to the effect that the cemetery celebration will only be private sector driven and the land swap strategy of the FCTA will be approved,” he said.
Meanwhile, ownership of the Centenary Company Limited, has been traced to the merger of two different companies, which are Basic start Ltd and Company First Limited owned by one Paul Oki and Bome Ozobia. According to the committee, the two companies have 10, 000 share capitals.
The centenary city is handling the development of 1,267 Hectares of land, as a memorial city for the amalgamation of Nigeria in 2014.