- Â Senators are un-armed robbers, PACAC chairman maintains
Tobi Soniyi in Lagos and Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
Thereâ€™s no love lost between the Senate and the Chairman of the Presidential Action Committee on Anti-Corruption (PACAC), Professor Itse Sagay (SAN), as the Senate has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to call the professor to order.
The Senate is again angry with Sagay for consistently spreading falsehood against the National Assembly and acting like he is under the influence of some substance.
The Senate described Sagay as a senile, loose cannon and one of the divisive elements in the presidentâ€™s administration who believe their relevance is enhanced only when they create constant tension between the legislature and the executive, or pit members of the executives against one another.
Senate spokesman, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, in a strongly worded statement issued Thursday, accused Sagay of using every opportunity to disparage the National Assembly, using uncouth and unprintable words to describe legislators and the institution.
Abdullahi was reacting to Sagayâ€™s speech at a recent public lecture in Lagos organised by the Society of International Law, where the presidential aide disparaged the lawmakers.
The statement from the Senate said: â€œOrdinarily, we would ignore Sagay whose statements and attitude present him as a rascal and sadist instead of a former university teacher.
â€œHowever, his last speech in Lagos during which he was reeling out false and exaggerated figures about the salaries and allowances of legislators and also lied about the passage of anti-corruption bills showed that he just deliberately sets out to undermine the legislative institution and lower its reputation in the estimation of right thinking members of the society and we therefore believe we should put him in his rightful place.
â€œAs an academic whose creed should be to find facts and make comments based on truth, we believe that Sagay should stop spreading beer parlour rumours about the salaries and allowances of legislators when he could simply get the facts from the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMFAC) which is the body constitutionally charged with the responsibility of fixing salaries and allowances of all public officials.
â€œLet us make it clear that our salaries and allowances are open books and the details can be taken from the RMFAC by any interested party.
â€œProf. Sagay at his lecture in Lagos also made comparisons which did little credit to his background as a lecturer, as he was talking of the salary of the United States President and that of a Nigerian legislator. That is like comparing oranges with apples.
â€œOnly a senile, jaded, rustic and outdated Professor of Law like Sagay will make such a comparison which falls flat on its face, even to an ordinary layman. Surely, Sagay is basing his analysis on street talk.â€
The Senate also took on Sagay for stating that it had not passed any legislation to aid the war against corruption, and went on to reel out the anti-corruption legislations it has passed in the last two years.
â€œSagay could not even check the records before proclaiming that â€˜the National Assembly has not passed a single bill for the promotion of the anti-corruption war since it commenced business in July 2015â€™.
â€œFirst, the 8th National Assembly was inaugurated on June 9, 2015 not July. Also, it is on record that the Senate has passed the Whistle Blowersâ€™ Protection Bill, Witness Protection Bill, Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency Bill.
â€œThis man talks like a man who is constantly under the influence of some substance and perhaps possessed, as he employs the language of a tout with no civility.
â€œHe is probably constantly excited and incensed by the fact of having his first opportunity to find himself in the corridors of power.
â€œHe pontificates and talks as if the war against corruption of the Buhari administration depends solely on him to survive. He once publicly attacked the Attorney General of the Federation and accused him of not doing enough to prosecute the war.
â€œIn the Lagos speech, he took a blanket swipe at the judiciary and rubbished that entire institution, which he as a lawyer has the professional, ethical and constitutional duty to respect.
â€œThis is a man who cannot stand for councilorship election and win. We challenge him to state what his contributions are in the election of our amiable president, Muhammadu Buhari, and what new ideas he has contributed to making the fight against corruption more effective since his appointment.
â€œWith an easily excitable man like him as head of an advisory body, the nation has continued to lose anti-corruption cases in courts due to the failure of his advice. He needs to do more work and talk less because media prosecution cannot win the war on corruption,â€ Abdullahi stated.
When asked to react to the Senateâ€™s comments, Sagay laughed it off, saying: â€œTruth is bitter. Yes, truth is very bitter. They are reacting to something I wrote. They know that they are guilty of everything. They know I have told the truth about them.
â€œThey know that they are completely robbing the country of its resources. How can you have a body in any nation, which gave itself the right to allocate any amount it likes to itself before it will agree to pass the budget?
â€œThey make themselves so rich and powerful while the rest of the country, the masses are struggling; where there is so much poverty, the masses are struggling.
â€œThere is armed robbery, militancy, kidnapping, because there is no money and because a few people abuse their positions and allocate the resources of the nation to themselves. That is the point I made.
â€œThey exist for themselves and they donâ€™t care what happens to Nigerians. I maintain my position. That is why Obasanjo (the former president) called them un-armed robbers and they could not reply because they know it is the truth,â€ Sagay insisted.