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President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Herman Hembe, a sacked lawmaker, as the board chairman of the Michael Imoudo National Institute for Labour Studies (MINLS). The Benue lawmaker was one of the 209 chairmen appointed to fill board positions.
Hembe was on June 23 sacked by the Supreme Court of Nigeria as led by Walter Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
He was removed on the basis that he did not win the All Progressives Congress (APC) ticket to represent Vandeikya/Konshisha federal constituency at the national assembly. The five-man panel of judges led by Onnoghen had declared Dorathy Mato as the winner of the primary election of the APC.
Hembe was ordered to return all salaries and benefits collected while in office within 90 days and pay N700,000 to Mato, while APC was also mandated to pay Mato and the court N300,000 each. In an affidavit seen by TheCable, Hembe pleaded with the apex court to set aside the order to repay all the salaries he received in office, on the grounds that he had spent all the monies and did not save.
“I have tried very hard to raise a loan to enable me comply with the above order of the honourable court, but have not yet succeeded,” read the affidavit.
HEMBE’S CONTROVERSIAL TRACK RECORD
Hembe became one of the youngest federal lawmakers in Nigeria in 2007, when he was elected — at 31 — to represent his constituency at the green chamber. At the time, he was with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). By 2011, he was re-elected and later selected as the chairman of house committee on capital market and other financial institutions.
As the chairman, he led a probe of the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), and in the course of the probe, Arunma Oteh, director-general of the commission, accused Hembe of soliciting a bribe of N40 million from SEC.
He denied the allegation, saying it was Oteh who offered him N30 million bribe. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charged him to court but could not secure a conviction. By February 2016, now an APC lawmaker, Hembe was appointed to head a committee of the house to probe the $18 billion centenary city project.
Anyim Pius Anyim, secretary to the government of the federation (SGF) in charge of the project under the Goodluck Jonathan administration, also accused Hembe of asking for a bribe. Again, Hembe denied the allegations.
In 2017, after 10 years as a federal lawmaker, Hembe was sacked by the supreme court, as a result of irregularities in the election that got him to claim the seat as the APC candidate.
‘PRODUCT OF IMPUNITY’
Hembe approached the supreme court for redress, asking the apex court to reverse itself on the payment of two-year salary. The CJN said: “If somebody has been in the House where he is not supposed to be and has reaped the benefits which it should not be, you mean we should close our eyes to this product of impunity?
“No, we cannot go back to that because the imposter has no right to it. Whatever he collected should be refunded. This court is sending a message to everybody so that right from the primaries, the right thing should be done.”
Hembe will, with immediate effect lead the MINILS board, under the ministry of labour and employment.
Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS) was established vide Act Cap 261 of the Law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1990 as the only tripartite institution in the West African sub-region responsible for providing workers’ education.
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