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Made-For-Nollywood: House Speaker Dimeji Bankole ‘rebuffs’ EFCC investigators

December 30, 2008
A half-hearted attempt by an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) team to ‘interrogate’ the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, was ‘rebuffed’ by the Speaker today in Abuja.

Mr. Bankole is facing a public storm for allegedly inflating contracts for 307 vehicles purchased by the House of Assembly from Peugot Automobile Nigeria (PAN) Limited.  The decision by the EFCC to interrogate Bankole follows a petition written by a Lagos-based lawyer and legal consultant to the EFCC, Festus Keyamo, which alleges fraud in the transaction.

Sources in the federal capital told SaharaReporters that the visit of members of Mrs. Farida Waziri's "Monitoring Team" was a front as she has reached an understanding with Bankole to allow the case slide.  The team was sent out as part of a charade in order "to be seen to have done something" about the petition submitted to the EFCC by the prominent lawyer, who is engaged with the commission.  

Last week the vehicle purchase scandal broke as more members of the House of Representatives began warming up to impeach the youthful Speaker.  It would be recalled that Mr. Bankole himself came to prominence following another corruption scandal in the House involving his predecessor, Mrs. Olubunmi Etteh, last year.  

According to documents available to SaharaReporters, Bankole and his cronies in the house creamed off close to N500 million in kickbacks from the N1.5 million cost of each car.  So far, Bankole is relying on the powerful "Integrity Group" in the House to protect him from impeachment.  While that group played an important role in the ouster of Mrs. Etteh, analysts say that its response to the allegations against Mr. Bankole is crucial to its character and continued relevance.  

The Speaker is also relying on Peugeot Automobile Nigeria (PAN), the supplier of the vehicles, to defend him against the corruption allegations.  PAN, however, has complicated the scandal by providing conflicting information about the deal. For example, by their own admission in their recent letter to the Ethics Committee of the House, the vehicles they supplied were different from the ones originally ordered by the House leadership, a clear breach of contract. 

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