The Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Prisons Service, Mr. Peter Ekpendu, on Monday disowned his security details, who allegedly slapped a member of the House of Representatives, Mrs. Onyemachi Mrakpor.
He said they acted on their own.
Ekpendu, who appeared before the House Committee on Interior in Abuja, tendered an apology for the conduct of his men, but still said they acted on their own and must face the consequences of their actions.
Mrakpor had reported a case of assault to the House on Wednesday last week when she accused the CG’s security aides of attacking her at the exit gate of the National Assembly.
The House had summoned Ekpendu to hear his side of the story on Monday.
At the session, the lawmaker specifically identified one Senior Inspector of Prisons, Mr. Idah Ode, as the officer who slapped her and also broke her glasses.
But, testifying before the committee, which was chaired by an All Progressives Congress lawmaker from Kaduna State, Mr. Adams Jagaba, the CG immediately apologized for the conduct of his men.
He described their action as “barbaric, overzealous and despicable.”
Ekpendu stated that much as he accepted responsibility for their actions, being their boss, they must face the consequences for “acts unbecoming of a prisons officer without directives from me or any of my subordinate officers.”
Ekpendu, who came under a barrage of questions from lawmakers, told the session that the Prisons Act frowned on acts of indiscipline, adding that offenders could face dismissal from service.
He pleaded with the committee to give him more time to conclude ongoing investigation into the incident in conjunction with the police, assuring members that the offenders would be adequately punished if found guilty.
Ekpendu claimed that he was not aware that the incident took place until 24 hours later after the House passed the resolution and his name was mentioned by both local and international media as an officer who assaulted a female lawmaker.
The CG told the committee that conducted a preliminary investigation into the incident.
But, when it was his turn to testify, Ode denied that she slapped the lawmaker.
“I am an escort, but I didn’t slap her. I did not even step down from the vehicle,” he added.
However, several security officials, including the police, who were also on duty that day, testified that there was indeed an altercation between the prisons security details and the lawmaker.
When asked further questions, they denied seeing when the slapping took place.
A deputy CG of Prisons, Mr. Shehu Kangiwa, who drove in the same vehicle with Ode that day, was absent at the hearing.
The committee ruled that Kangiwa must be produced as the only possible officer to confirm when Ode indeed stepped out of his vehicle to assault the female lawmaker.