The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), has asked the Senate to accept the criticism of a former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, who recently described the National Assembly as deeply enmeshed in bribery.
Sagay told our correspondent, during an interview on Saturday, that the Senate’s challenge to Jega to mention the names of lawmakers that had demanded bribes would bring more shame to the National Assembly.
He said Jega was not known to speak frivolously and would most likely have evidence which could worsen the case of the lawmakers.
The PACAC chairman stated, “Obviously, Jega has names. I wouldn’t be surprised if when he was presiding over INEC, some of them did that (demanded bribes); so let them not challenge him too far. He just decided to be politically correct by not mentioning names. If they challenge him, he would mention names.
“We all have names of different people who have done different things. The fact that no one is mentioning them doesn’t mean the claims are not true. So, he is right. This corruption has been going on since 1999.
“They claim to be carrying out oversight functions and would insist that the agency they want to oversight would book their hotel rooms, pay for their food, pay for their transport and then give them money in addition. What sort of result would come out of such an oversight exercise?
“They have run their institution aground, making it almost irrelevant in Nigerian democracy.”
The senior advocate said for corruption to be curbed in the National Assembly, Nigerians must ensure that they elect only people of high moral standard.
He added that the lawmaker, representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Senator Shehu Sani, was among the few incorruptible persons in the Senate.
Sagay said, “The legislature will change when people of integrity begin to enter the Senate and begin to kill that culture (of corruption). For example, even though I don’t agree with him in all things, I would be shocked if I hear that Senator Shehu Sani demanded bribe from anybody because I believe he is a man of integrity. When more and more people like that begin to come in, there would be a change.
“Secondly, there needs to be a culture of punishment and consequences and that is what we are watching out for. With the way things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if in future, anyone found guilty of that act would be arrested and charged.”
Sagay, who had, in March, promised to publish details of the humongous allowances collected by Senate President Bukola Saraki and other principal officers of the National Assembly, said the task had experienced some hiccups.
The senior advocate said it might seem lawmakers had been made to swear an oath of secrecy as some persons, who initially wanted to give him the information, had begun to dilly-dally.
On why he hadn’t yet released the details, he stressed, “My problem is that I am not getting cooperation from my sources. There is a reluctance to disclose the truth. It is as if we are having a cult or something because I think people have sworn to an oath of secrecy because nobody is coming out now but I will continue to try.”