Oyedele in Abuja
The Senate on Tuesday said it has been vindicated by the actions of President Muhammadu Buhari over the scandals involving the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Babachir Lawal, and the fugitive former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina.
The Senate said its vindication is because the revelations that culminated in the eventual sack of Babachir and Maina, emanated from its chambers.
The position of the Senate followed an observation by Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Ibn Naâ€™Allah, who argued that despite criticisms of the Senate following the indictive report on both men, the lawmakers have been vindicated.
Babachir was indicted late 2016 by an adhoc committee which investigated the mounting humanitarian crises in the North-east.
He was accused of awarding fictitious and frivolous contracts from funds meant for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) which included contracts for grass cutting in the region.
Maina on the other hand was indicted by a Senate Committee during the seventh assembly which accused him of stealing billions of naira from pension funds. The committee had issued a warrant for his arrest, which caused him to flee the country.
Maina was however recently restated as a Director in the Ministry of Interior but the uproar which followed his reinstatement led to his dismissal by Buhari.
Naâ€™Allah speaking at plenary yesterday recalled that some youth had besieged the National Assembly in both instances when Maina and Babachir were indicted, and accused the lawmakers of having ulterior motives.
â€œCan we now not have the authority to shout a sound of vindication? We have.â€
â€œWhen we started this crusade, so many things happened and let us not be quick to forget. These same people who we are fighting for – Nigerians – became gullible and were sponsored; toilets were provided for them to close the gate of the National Assembly in the name of â€˜Occupy NASS.â€™ Every inconceivable thing has been done to bring down the 8th Senate, individually and collectively,â€ the lawmaker said.
He urged ongoing investigative committees to expeditiously conclude their assignments and turn in thorough reports.
The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said blackmail would not deter the Senate from its commitment to fighting corruption.
â€œIt has been a very tough journey in ensuring that we continue to defend the integrity of this institution. I want to commend the government and Mr. President for doing what is right on this matter.â€
â€œAs you said, when we started, it was more of blackmail but the right thing has been done. We will continue to vow on our commitment to fighting corruption – non-selective – and we say to Nigerians, as part of our responsibilities, that any case, evidence or information brought before the Senate; we assure you that we will investigate and expose it,â€ Saraki said.
â€œWe donâ€™t fear anybody when doing our work. We have made it clear and that should show you our commitment. Also, on that note is the observation made by the Deputy Leader: there is a few investigations still going on. Committees, please ensure that your reports and submitted on time so that we can conclude those investigations. There is quite a few of them and we want to complete them promptly and do justice to them. We will be fair to everybody but we will do our work,â€ Saraki added.