Civil right groups have accused the National Assembly of making conscious efforts to frustrate the anti-corruption drive. They accuse the lawmakers of overprotective of criminal suspects identified as key suspects in the notable cases of graft and outright stealing.
“The current National Assembly, especially the Senate, may be the worst in the recent history of Nigeria. In terms of the battle against corruption, the National Assembly has not only taken the back seat, they have become a potential willing tool in the hands of those who want to keep Nigeria on the dark spot of maladministration."
The rights groups said a tiny but powerful section of the National Assembly has constituted itself into a rogue cell with the main agenda of stifling the anti-corruption campaign of the relevant institutions.
In a statement on Thursday, the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre), the Journalists for Democratic Rights, (JODER), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Centre for Human rights and Civic Education (CHRICED) cautioned the members of parliament not to use their privileged positions to undermine the anti-corruption drive.
“The National Assembly of any truly transparent democratic nation should partner in frustrating corruption and ineptitude. But in Nigeria, there is a consistent pattern on the part of the National Assembly to create hurdles and deliberately prevent a paradigm shift from the culture of impunity and stealing of public funds to a regime of transparency in the conduct of public affairs”, the civil right groups stated.
They accuse the lawmakers of creating unnecessary drama and diversions under the guise of promoting the rule of law, whereas the main agenda is to stunt the transformation of Nigeria from a hopelessly corrupt country to a new nation where guzzling of public funds will be a thing of the past.
The groups listed various instances in which the leadership and members of the upper house have risen in defence of corrupt public officials and a consistent pattern of taking arbitrary actions like constituting the parliament into an authority with the right to indirectly determine the legal status of high profile cases of corruption.
“The House on a number of occasions have been providing a safe haven for corrupt officials, giving orders to unfreeze the accounts of suspects and even issuing orders to undermine investigations of anti-corruption agencies. All these suggest that the National Assembly is handed in gloves with many corrupt individuals and institutions."
The groups also listed the following:
· The sponsorship of the NGOs Regulation bill
· The proposal by some lawmakers of the immunity clause for members of the National Assembly
· The orchestrated plot to scuttle the trial of the Senate President by the Code of Conduct Bureau
· The refusal to confirm the Chairmanship of the EFCC
· The suspension of Senator who called attention to public perception of member of the Senate
. An attempt by the Senate to summon the Code of Conduct Tribunal over the Trial of Senate President, Bukola Saraki
. Summon and attempt at embarrassing the Controller General of Customs impounded unauthorised armoured bullet proof vehicle allegedly imported by the Senate President.
. Directing the EFCC to unfreeze an account belonging to a suspect, Patience Jonathan, in a matter that is before a competent Court of Jurisdiction.
. Conspiring with a fugitive, Abdur-Rasheed Maina, to falsely accuse EFCC of mismanaging phantom 222 recovered properties.
The groups frown at the surreptitious attempt of the Parliament to constitute itself into a shield and safe haven for suspect in the name legislative interventions.
The groups challenge the legislators to provide similar urgency to the plights of ordinary Nigerians who are faced with Daily intractable numbers of violation and ultimate victims of suspects the parliament strive to protect.