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Reps summon minister over ‘illegal’ auction of river basin authorities’ assets

Reps summon minister over ‘illegal’ auction of river basin authorities’ assets
September 04
18:16 2023

A house of representatives ad hoc committee has summoned Joseph Utsev, minister of water resources and sanitation, over the alleged illegal auctioning of some government assets.

The ad hoc committee investigating the “illegal” disposal of some government properties between 2010 and 2022 and non-remittance of the revenue realised from the sale of the assets into the consolidated revenue fund (CRF), issued the summon at its inaugural sitting on Monday.

According to the panel, the minister is to account for the assets of the river basin authorities in the country auctioned between 2010 and 2022.

Some of the managing directors of the basin authorities who appeared before the committee on Monday said the water resources ministry auctioned the assets on behalf of the agencies.


The managing directors who appeared before the committees include Adeniyi Aremu, Lower Niger River Basin; Suleiman Abubakar, Upper Benue River Basin, and Bassey Edet, Cross River Basin Authority.

Aremu said the auctioning of the assets by the ministry of water resources had already begun before he was appointed in 2018.

Julius Ihonvbere, chairman of the committee, who is the majority leader of the house, expressed dissatisfaction over the process of disposing of the assets.


“I want to assure you for now that we are not very satisfied and that is because you did not preside over this process,” he said.

The lawmaker also faulted the documents presented to the committee by the agencies, noting that there are “disconnects in the contents in some of the documents”.

“We will require that you come back after we deduce some of those documents directly from the ministry on behalf of your agencies,” he said.

The committee also summoned the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Nigeria Maritime Authority and Saftey Agency (NIMASA), Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), and Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) for “disregarding” its invitation.


Ihonvbere warned that the committee would issue a warrant of arrest against the management of any agency that fails to honour the committee’s summon.

“There is a tendency in this country for these agencies to think they can operate above the law. Not with this house of representatives. It’s not possible,” he said.

This is not the first time the lawmakers would be investigating the auction of the assets of the river basin authorities.

Last year, Suleiman Adamu, the then-minister of water resources, apologised to the public account committee of the green chamber over the auction of the rivers basin authorities assets.


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