The Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), a coalition of more than 150 anti-corruption organisations, has called on the Senate "not to meddle in the ongoing negotiation between the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and MTN Communications Limited".
A statement issued on Wednesday by Olanrewaju Suraju, Chairman of CSNAC, urged the lawmakers to focus on their duties and "operate within its legisative functions".
According to the statement, "CSNAC had on the 11th September, 2018 requested that the EFCC investigate the alleged illegal repatriation of export revenues by MTN Communications Limited and her collaborators".
Olanrewaju noted that the coalition's request for investigation "followed the Senate’s reported adoption of a resolution largely exonerating MTN of an alleged illegal repatriation of $14 billion out of the country".
The statement continued: "The Senate had, through a motion raised on the floor and subsequent investigations and public hearing, resolved on November 8, 2017 in favour of MTN and largely condemned the Central Bank of Nigeria and its officials directly connected with the transactions at the material point in time. Professional analysis by CBN of documents and submissions from the commercial banks and MTN affirmed infractions in the tune of over $10billion. Whereas, there has been pressure on the CBN, the Attorney General of the Federation and President Buhari, from within and outside the country to reverse the sanction, the latest attempt of the Senate to act within its constitutional mandate is suspect.
"CSNAC, whose primary mandate is the enthronement of transparency, accountability, probity and total commitment to the fight to eradicate corruption in Nigeria chose to approach the EFCC, a neutral party, with the said request with a view to ensuring that the matter is not swept under the carpet with the meddling of the Senate and certain Senators through an ill-intended resolution exonerating MTN.
"However, we are aware following a report in the Nation Newspaper dated 14th November, 2018 that the Senate is still questioning and seeking to play the role of a meddlesome interloper in the current negotiation progress between CBN and MTN on possible means of payment and possible legally permissible reduction of the original fine. The wild allegation of reduction to 10% is not enough justification for Senators, who originally gave a clean bill of health to MTN, to get a seat at the negotiation table.
"We therefore call on the Senate to operate within its legislative functions and desist from meddling in issues exclusively within the constitutional role of regulatory agencies. The Senate owe Nigerians unreserved apology for its initial report and declaration that seek to deprive the country of over $10billion. The current unsolicited and unwarranted intervention and role demanded by the Senate is not only unconstitutional, as the issue falls outside its constitutional powers as a legislative arm of government, it is immoral.
"We thus warn the Senate that Civil Society is keenly watching its role in the impasse and will not hesitate to take necessary actions under Nigerian laws to ensure that it does not thwart the effective implementation of laws by its meddlesome acts of compromise."