Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, former Speaker of the House of Reps Dimeji Bankole, and former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Aloysius Katsina-Alu, have been given 21 days to forfeit their residences to the federal government.
The government, through the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property chaired by Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, issued the quit notice on Thursday to the three as well as former Deputy Speaker and current Senator Usman Bayero Nafada, sources said.
The Panel had in September issued a similar quit notice to former Senate President David Mark to which he had since filed a suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja to quash all the steps taken to evict him and recover the house from him by the panel.
The panel said the five of them illegally acquired their then-official residences as their private properties.
Daily Trust recalls that former President Goodluck Jonathan had in November 2010 reportedly gave leave to the Senate President, the Deputy Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, to “purchase” their official quarters.
“The Senate President’s residence was sold to David Mark for N748 million; Speaker, House of Representatives’ residence was sold to Hon Dimeji Bankole for N670 million; while Deputy Senate President residence was sold to Senator Ike Ekweremadu for N458 million.
“Deputy Speaker House of Representatives residence was sold to Senator Nafada for N348.5 million, and they were all sold without competitive bidding contrary to the provisions of the Public Procurement Act especially Section 15 thereof”, one of the sources said, adding that the residence of Justice Katsina-Alu was sold to him at N45million.
Another source said former President Jonathan had directed that the sale of the property should be gazetted in the Federal Government Gazette in his minute in a memo sent to him by the then minister of the FCT Senator Bala Muhammad dated 18 November 2010, but that was not done.
“A gazette is a notice to the whole world of the position of the government on any issue and since there was a prevailing gazette that the house bought by the plaintiff (referring to David Mark) should not be sold under Government monetization policy, the Gazette would have superseded the previous one.
“So the previous gazette prevails since the sale was not gazetted. That alone has vitiated the sale. Secondly, the sale is against the public procurement Act which provides any contract for a good and service must be through competitive bidding. The sale was not through competitive bidding,” he said.
He added that the houses which were not ordinary houses but institutional houses to principal officers of the National Assembly and the Executive had no right in the first place to given order for the houses to be sold.