Senate President Ahmed Lawan has denied collecting $10 million bribe from oil companies to ensure the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which has since been assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Last Friday, an online publication, “Peoples Gazette” reported that $10 million was paid in cash to members of the National Assembly to help expedite passage of the bill despite widespread opposition to a clause that granted only three per cent of upstream oil companies’ operating income to host communities.
However, speaking to State House correspondents yesterday after a meeting with President Buhari, Lawan dismissed the allegations.
The senate president said he took exception to such kind of unwarranted unprovable false and fake information being fed to the Nigerian public.
He said, “And this is part of the intangible dividends of democracy. But we are determined to ensure that the space is wide open for everybody to say whatever they want to say.
“But I will advise that don’t say things that are bad because people are inhibited. And recently somebody said $10 million was given to the speaker and the senate president to give to members of the National Assembly to pass three percent or what do you call it? That is funny but also very serious.
“I want to take this opportunity to take exception to those kinds of unwarranted, unprovable false and fake information being fed to the Nigerian public.
“And the danger people will face with this is, you cause unnecessary damage to the reputation of people. I had an occasion to take someone to court because of this kind of empty vessel information about three months ago. But Nigerians are better judges and lawyers.
“So the freedom of expression is there, probably more than anywhere in the world. But I want to say that Nigerians should always think about their leaders and their administration and their governments. And if they have issues, they think very strongly about, let them speak the truth. And we are prepared to take corrections that we feel should be able to make us do better.”
The senate president also disclosed that he met the president on security, party matters, 2022 budget and governance issues.
He said the administration was targeting the completion of legacy projects in 2022.
Lawan added that the All Progressives Congress is capable of registering 100 million members in the coming months.
“We are breaking new grounds. We are getting and attracting more and more members very solid, high profile people from other political parties, especially the Peoples Democratic Party, into the APC. And this is to show the confidence that Nigerians place in our party,” he added.
He also expressed confidence that before the current administration leaves in 2023, the security situation in the country would have been stabilised.
Lawan said, “On security issue; we have seen mass surrender from Boko Haram members. I must say Boko Haram is coming to an end. I’m sure the new strategies by the current leadership of the armed forces are wreaking on Boko Haram heavy losses.
“Some of them think they should just throw in the towel. Therefore, it’s one of those very successful stories of the fight against insurgency in the North East. We have asked for improvement in resources, we have asked for changing of guards in the area of those who are at the top of the echelon of the security services, particularly the armed forces. And we have gotten that.
The senate president further described the glee of surrender by members of the terrorist group as real success stories even as he counselled that strategies should be defined to see that only genuine repentant ones are reintegrated into the society.
He said, “So I believe that this is one of the success stories. This is real that is happening. What we need to do is to have a clearly defined national policy on how we deal with this. Because unless we have a strategy of dealing with this, we may be overwhelmed. And it could deny us the opportunity of getting the best out of this surrendering. What do we need to do? We have to be prepared for the human resources that we have to make available.”
He added,“We need to screen to ensure that those who are genuine and those who may just follow in for some reasons. But I don’t subscribe to the idea of saying ‘forget about people who are surrendering all of them are criminals’ and the rest of it. In the law of wars or something when somebody surrenders, you have something to surrender.
“And of course, maybe you’ll do some profiling and find out whether this is someone genuine or not. So I believe that we should give people the benefit of the doubt.
“We should also be very circumspect on those who may not be genuine in this. But we should accept people when they come and take the appropriate measures and get the right strategies on how to deal with the integration of such people into the community.
“Don’t throw them just into the community like that, because you need to do some other things to ensure that everybody is sanitized, so to speak, before they are introduced into the society.”