The Coalition of Political Parties (CUPP) has deplored the move by the House of Representatives to probe its spokesperson, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, over his remarks that the leadership of the lower chamber legislative was allegedly induced externally to the tune of $10 million to hasten the passage of the contentious Infectious Diseases Bill 2020.
The body likened the action to an attempt to “intimidate the opposition and the media and ensure they publish only pro-government news.”
During a press conference yesterday in Abuja, the organisation’s contact and mobilisation chairman and national chairman of Action Alliance, Kenneth Udeze, stated: “We have reviewed the statements by our spokesperson, including all his press statements and press conferences, and we declare that they were all in line with international best practices expected of the opposition.
“We therefore a pass a vote of confidence on our national spokesperson, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere.
“If allegations were made against the speaker directly, on what moral and statutory grounds did he stand to constitute a committee to investigate him?”
Consequently, the CUPP called on Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila to “step aside along with his deputy, who is also a co-accuser, for a neutral person to preside and set up a committee.”
He added: “Our spokesman, Ugochinyere, will not be attending the illegal, unconstitutional and contemptuous sitting of his undemocratic committee led by Hon. Henry Nwawuba.
“Our legal representatives will be sent again to remind him of a pendency of a suit at the Federal High Court on the subject matter of his sitting wherein the clerk of the House of Representatives has been served.
“The clerk of the National Assembly has also been served alongside other relevant parties.
“They will also remind him that by the rules of the House, he should not continue sitting. But where he insists on going on, they have also been instructed to inform him that we would proceed against him in contempt.”
Gbajabiamila had last week raised the panel, giving Ugochinyere a 72-hour ultimatum on Monday to appear before it and prove his claim.
He had claimed to have intelligence that the leadership of the chamber was being sponsored by vested international interests to foist the bill on the country.
The statement had read: “This intelligence is coupled with the information of the alleged receipt, from sources outside the country but very interested in the bill, of the sum of $10 million by the sponsors and promoters of the bill to distribute among lawmakers to ensure a smooth passage of the bill.”