American billionaire, and co-founder of Microsoft, Mr Bill Gates, has described as spurious, the media reports that he offered a $10 million incentive (bribe) to the members of the Nigerian Federal House of Representatives.
Recall that there were numerous rumors that this bill was passed by the house to hasten the process of passing the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, 2020.
This comes even as the Adhoc committee investigating the allegation and rumors has given the spokesman of the Coalition of United Political Parties, (CUPP), Ikenga Ugochinyere, till Thursday to appear before the panel with evidence of inducement as he alleged or face parliamentary contempt.
On May 4, 2020, Ugochinyere issued a press statement in which he alleged the House and its leadership had received financial inducement to the tune of $10 million to rush the passage of the controversial bill.
However, Dr. Pauliu Basinga, Bill Gates’ Foundation country’s representative appeared before the House Adhoc committee on Monday, where he said there was no interaction whatsoever between himself or his Foundation and the House of Representatives.
“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has recently been made aware of an allegation circulating in certain elements of the Nigerian media that the Foundation was involved in a payment purportedly made to the Nigeria House of Representatives. Any such allegations are entirely false and without merit.
“To be clear, the Foundation has not offered any financial incentives to any member of Nigeria’s legislative branch for the passage of legislation nor has it offered any grants to organisations in Nigeria in connection with the same. The Foundation adheres to strict ethical and legal guidelines across all areas of its operations”,
However, Ugochinyere did not appear before the panel, but was represented by Barr. Tochukwu Uhazurike, a legal Representative to the CUPP spokesman.
Uhazurike told the panel that his client didn’t come to the hearing because, he had already filed a law suit challenging the legal ground of the committee to summon him for investigation, adding that
“in line with the principles of natural justice, the speaker cannot be a judge in his own case”.
However, the adhoc committee Chairman, Rep. Henry Nwawuba, (PDP, Imo), did not buy that but told the lawyer Ugochinyere was the one invited not him.
The lawmakers finalised by saying they cannot allow any lawyer or legal representative to speak to them on his behalf, insisting that the Ugochinyere who made the accusation must come forward himself to prove his allegation.
Nwawuba also said,
“We have a mandate to investigate the allegation by your client, and any attempt in whatever manner to derail it will be met with the full weight of the parliament. You cannot bring a letter to the House on the day of an investigation in an attempt to stop it.
“What we do here is constitutional, and just like the procedures read out to you, he must be here present, accompanied by you, if he so wishes. But we won’t listen to you on this matter, so you tell your principal to make himself available by Thursday, failure of which we are will turn in our recommendation to the House”.
With respect to the media houses who carried the said story, Nwawuba said,
“The Nigerian Media and the National Assembly remain partners in progress on the task of nation building, adding that care must be taken at all times to vet and verify potentially libellous materials before going
to the Press”
Ugochinyere has not yet responded as of Press time.
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