- CSOs condemn Senate over CCT amendment
Paul Obi and Bukola Eshun in Abuja
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) monday warned the Senate to return about 108 Toyota Land Cruiser sports utility vehicles (SUVs) it bought for senators or face the wrath of the Nigerian people who are at the moment facing excruciating economic pains and hardship.
NLC President, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, said in Abuja that the purchase of the cars was wrong and insensitive in the face of the suffering of the masses.
According to Wabba, “We consider as appalling, insensitive and greedy the decision of the Senate to acquire 108 Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles (one for each member, except the Senate president) after collecting ‘car loans’ in August last year for the same purpose.
“It is equally morally despicable and shameful that they are doing this after publicly admitting that the standing committees of the Senate are unable to perform their statutory functions due to the paucity of funds.”
NLC observed that the temerity of the Senate to go ahead with the purchase of the 108 Toyota SUVs after pocketing the car loans amounted to a criminal act calculated to short change the nation.
“We at the Nigeria Labour Congress equally consider it a willful and grievous criminal act, the inflation of the unit cost of each of the cars by over a 100 per cent, as each car supposedly cost N35.1 million instead of N17 million.
“Aside from this, Nigerians are keen to know from where they got the money for the purchase of these cars without appropriation. The defence offered by the Senate spokesperson, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, is laughable and childish.
“According to him, Special Advisers (in the presidency) use SUVs, why not senators or do Nigerians expect them to trek to work? And in any case, cars are capital projects,” Wabba quoted him as stating.
Wabba continued: “Couldn’t this have been put to better use such as the constituency projects of these same senators? At a time of severe economic challenges and deepening poverty in the land, can the Senate afford this level of reckless luxury and arrogance?
“The answer is, ‘No’. Their multiple acts of criminality, ranging from acquiring these cars after previously taking loans for the same purpose; spending money without appropriation and over inflating costs constitute not just corruption but a crime against the Nigerian people whom they claim to represent.
“Accordingly, we demand they return those cars to whoever supplied them or the appropriate agencies prosecute them for corruption. In the event none of these happens, they should be prepared to keep a date with Nigerian workers and their civil society allies including market women and students. No one is above the law.”
In the same breath, civil society groups yesterday confronted the Senate over its amendment of the Code of Conduct Bureau CCB) and the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Act.
Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre’s (CISLAC) executive director Auwal Ibrahim Rafsanjani at a briefing in Abuja stated that the attempt by the Senate to water down the current CCB and CCT Act would not serve the nation any good.
He said: “The civil society organisations (CSOs) working to promote justice and good governance in Nigeria have been monitoring with consternation the ongoing undemocratic, self-serving, and dubious attempt by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to hasten the passage of the proposed amendment of the law setting up the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).”
He recalled the ongoing trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki at the CCT, and the startling and mind-boggling revelations that have emerged about how the Senate president received double pay long after he ceased to occupy the governorship position of his home state of Kwara.
According to him, “The senate president is also in the dock over allegations of false and anticipatory declarations of assets. He is also alleged to have breached the law by keeping secret foreign accounts in offshore tax havens, as confirmed in the leaked Panama papers.
“The so called distinguished fellow has equally been accused of forging the Senate rules. These are weighty allegations, which ordinarily should have compelled Senator Saraki to step down and use the judicial process to clear his name.”
Also, Kola Banwo, a member of another CSO, explained that the end game of the Senate is to strip the tribunal of the powers to sanction corrupt individuals and eventually mutilate the current CCB law.
He said: “Mr. Saraki shows disdain and contempt to Nigerians and the rule of law by closing down the senate and carrying a majority of senators to the tribunal whenever he has to appear before it.
“The senators who are paid to carry out their legislative duties abandon their work to go and provide solidarity to someone charged with a criminal act.”
Banwo contended that the passage of the bill would portray the Senate in a bad light, and as a betrayal of public trust, the total disregard for administration of justice and utmost conflict of interest on the part of the Eighth Senate.