In light of recent scandals rocking the Nigerian Senate, a civil society organization, the Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED), has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take action to end impunity in the Senate. The group specifically expressed concern that Senate President Bukola Saraki and his colleague, Dino Melaye, are attempting to undermine the anti-corruption war.

Read the full press release below:

 

In Defense of Democracy and National Interest: President Buhari Must End Impunity In Senate Now!

The Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED) has carefully reviewed recent developments in the Nigerian Senate, which have precipitated serious implications for the growth of democracy, good governance and the crusade against corruption in Nigeria. It is clear to all discerning Nigerians that an irredeemably corrupt and morally bankrupt clique in the Senate has hijacked a key national institution, and has subverted it in the pursuit of self-enrichment, and personal aggrandizement.

In previous interventions on the character of the leadership of the 8th Senate, CHRICED made it absolutely clear that allowing a critical institution in the legislative process, to be led by an indicted person currently standing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, would do a lot of damage to the quest for genuine democracy, good governance, and a corruption free Nigeria. That position has been vindicated by the fact that the Senate, led by Bukola Saraki, with the less than stable Dino Melaye in tow, has launched an onslaught against important legislative initiatives to strengthen the electoral process and wage a more effective war against corruption.

CHRICED views the dishonest move to halt the screening of the 27 Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs), “until the Acting Chair of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu is removed”, as the height of legislative irresponsibility and rascality. This travesty and abuse of the legislative process cannot be allowed to continue. As it was in its dubious decision not to confirm the Acting Chair of the EFCC, the Senate has continuously overstepped its bounds in pursuit of personal interests and narrow objectives that have no co-relation whatsoever with the interest of the ordinary Nigerians yearning for good governance. CHRICED also finds it curious that the impunity in the Senate is going on unchecked by the other arms of government, especially the Executive.

Consequently, the aloofness of the Presidency has given further green light to the lawless characters in the Senate to continue the desecration of the law making institution. Saraki and his minions have therefore been carrying on as if they are not accountable to any other institution in the governance structure. This is why in defiance of clear judicial precedence; the Senate yesterday took yet another patently illegal action by claiming to have suspended the former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume for six months. By this resort to jungle tactics, Saraki and his corrupt co-travelers are now claiming the power to annul the votes, and effective representation of the people in the senatorial district where the purportedly suspended Senator Ndume hails from. This primitive, crude and lawless approach to silencing dissent stands utterly condemned.

Subsequently, the Senate has been issuing loud orders, summoning different government officials, including those who do not fall within their legal purview to issue such summon to. CHRICED frowns at the crass illiteracy, which motivated the Senate to issue a summon to Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption (PACA), Professor Itse Sagay. CHRICED staunchly supports Professor Sagay’s characterization of the Senate in the light of its recent retrogressive decisions, as a chamber filled with many childish and irresponsible characters. The delusion and impaired reasoning that have become the hallmark of decisions from what is supposed to be a hallowed legislative space, calls for immediate and decisive intervention of the Presidency. 

It is in the national interest, the defense of democracy and the rule of law for such an intervention to be urgently made. It is our considered view that an intervention to stop the current lawlessness and recklessness in the Senate is in order. The justification for this is that a small coterie of integrity-deficient characters like Saraki, Melaye and their co-travelers, who have hijacked the Senate, are getting high on the notion that they can operate and run a parallel government. Their provocative actions in recent weeks point to the fact that they are warming up to run a different centre of power and authority, in direct conflict to the powers of the President.

This disruptive disposition of the Senate would be glean from their outright refusal to join the Treasury Single Account (TSA), and failure to declare their earnings; and the deliberate and contrived delays it has adopted as standard practice in its consideration of the 2017 Budget. Also, the gang up to decline confirmation of the EFCC Chair, as well as the irrelevant spat with the Customs Comptroller General over wearing of uniform, all to point to a series of premeditated plot to disrupt or possibly shut down government. This retrogressive approach, where parochial interests trump the national interest, is unacceptable to the Nigerian people. This is the more reason why an intervention to bring normalcy back to the Senate, would be welcomed by well meaning Nigerians.

In this quest for normalcy, decent and civilized conduct in the Senate therefore, CHRICED calls for immediate withdrawal of the security details of all indicted persons in the senate currently standing trial for corruption until they are absolved through the judicial process. 

With all sense of responsibility, we canvass this position because it is unacceptable for indicted persons standing criminal trial to continue using the apparatus of state power to validate themselves in office, while they are being tried for serious misconduct. Similarly, CHRICED calls on the EFCC to speedily investigate other Senators involved in criminal infractions against the State, and immediately charge them to court. This way, the Senate will be sanitized and it will revert back to its role as a key legislative institution in the push for democracy, good governance, rule of law, and a corruption-free Nigeria. The truth, which the current corrupt Senate leadership is averse to, is that it is too enmeshed in graft to offer Nigerians anything good. This is why the leadership is so desperate to hang on, thereby continuing to denigrate an important democratic institution.

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria; the Senate must be cleansed now.

Signed:

Comrade Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi

Executive Director

National Assembly

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