The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denied allegation credited to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, refused to appear before the House to respond to the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.
Gbajabiamila was reported to have said on Tuesday that he would report Onyeama to President Muhammadu Buhari for not honouring an invitation to meet with the House regarding attacks on Nigerians in South Africa, a situation he described was unfortunate.
But the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement by its spokesperson, Ferdinand Nwonye, said the actual state of affairs was that the minister was engaged with the weekly Federal Executive Council Meeting and duly informed the speaker via a letter dated September 10, 2019, of his unavailability.
Nwonye added that the minister and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, hold the institution of the National Assembly in high regard and would not disobey the House.
“It has come to the attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a statement credited to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, in which he is alleged to have charged that Geoffrey Onyeama, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, refused to appear before the House plenary and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to brief them on his efforts to address the plight of Nigerians in the Republic of South Africa and that he would take punitive measures against him and report him to the president.
“The ministry wishes to inform the public that there is no iota of truth whatsoever in such a charge. The truth of the matter is that by a letter dated September 9, 2019, by the Chief of Staff to the Hon. Speaker, the Minister of Foreign Affairs was invited to a meeting with the leadership of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, September 11, 2019 at 11.00 am in the Hon. Speaker’s office. By letter dated September 10, 2019, the office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs wrote to the Chief of Staff to the Hon. Speaker, informing him that the minister would be at the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council at that time, and that he looked forward to a meeting at a time to be mutually agreed on.
“The ministry is by this press release informing that the Hon Minister and the ministry respect the institution of the National Assembly,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.