A Muslim group, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has described the continued stay in office of Dr. Olusola Saraki as the Senate President as a threat to the integrity of the Senate. In a statement signed by its Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, the group said the Saraki's trial for the false declaration of assets, which began at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on 5 April 2016, has thrown up staggering disclosures.
These MURIC observed, have been worsened by the mention of Saraki's name in the recent Panama Papers Leaks, which identified the Senate President as one of the owners hidden assets in safe tax havens abroad. For this, the group said, something needs to be done and urgently, too.
"The integrity of Senate is at stake here, and something needs to be done and very urgently too," urged MURIC.
The group drew attention to the fact that over 60 senators accompanied Saraki to the CCT on his first day of appearance, something that was repeated during other appearances. While not opposed to the legislators decision to show solidarity to Saraki, the group expressed dissatisfaction with the waste of legislative time and tax-payers’ money that arises from the abandonment of their duties.
MURIC also reckoned that Saraki's numerous attempts to ensure that the trial did not take off suggested that he has skeletons in his closet.
"The recent revelations during court proceedings where staggering amounts of money were alleged to have been surreptitiously deposited in bank accounts or siphoned outside this country by the Senate President through his agents also call for caution, concern, and sober reflection.
"The fact that huge sums were reportedly split into smaller amounts and paid fifty (50) times into the same bank account on a single day is quite worrisome. 'Somebody somewhere knew that the source of the money he intended to deposit in a bank account was illegal. Someone somewhere wanted to avoid detection.
"Somebody somewhere knew that he could be detected if the whole amount was paid in bulk and at a go. Somebody somewhere has been a smart Alec," MURIC reckoned.
Similarly, the group asked if Senators could claim not to know that the person mentioned in connection with the alleged misdemeanours is not the Senate President. While acknowledging that there are people of integrity in the Senate, MURIC urged that those in the category should not allow their names to be sullied by the public, which will perceive them as being of the same stock with the accused.
"MURIC, therefore, calls on Senate to do the needful. The Nigerian public is disenchanted with a legislature that cannot satisfy all righteousness. A legislative arm which condones stinking corruption at the leadership level can never be in tandem with Nigeria’s new elixir for anti-corruption," the group said
The group argued that senators will only be considered as friends of the people if they sanitise the system by removing Saraki, who is emblematic of ‘monkey dey work, baboon dey chop’ syndrome, which has made life difficult for the people.
"Workers’ salary cannot take them home even on the day they receive it.
" Some states are yet to pay the N18,000 minimum wage. Some states also owe as much as three months salary arrears.
"Our graduates of ten years ago are still roaming the streets.
" There is hunger and starvation in the land. The average Nigerian lives on less than one dollar ($1) per day. Our per capita income is less than $300. More than 70 million Nigerians are poor.
"How then can the masses stomach reports of a single person depositing between N600,000 and N900,000 fifty times in a single day?
"This wide gap between the rich and the poor is nothing short of social, economic injustice.
" It is responsible for the rise in violent crime, particularly armed robbery," the group concluded.