BY MUYIWA OYINLOLA and AHURAKA ISAH,
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has asked Nigerians not to blackmail the lawmakers for not confirming Ibrahim Magu as chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Saraki who said the National Assembly was working hand-in-hand with other arms of government in the anti-graft war of the present administration also wondered why Nigerians miscontrued the senate’s action on customs boss, Hameed Ali.
Magu, who is currently acting chairman of the anti-corruption agency had appeared for confirmation twice before the Senate but was turned down on the two occasions.
But while the public, which considers Magu a tough and thorough professional sees the lawmakers’ action as an attempt to cover up for some alleged corrupt members of the Senate, Saraki stated that the lawmakers merely acted within their constitutional power, adding that it was a security report that nailed Magu.
The former Kwara State governor who made this disclosure during an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP said, “We need to stop this issue of blackmail. You must follow the process. Was it Senate that wrote his report? The security report they gave Magu, was it manufactured by the senate? The screening of Magu was live, we didn’t do it in the dark room at night? Everybody saw the performance.
“And lastly, they say because some senators have cases with the EFCC. Yes, some senators have cases with the EFCC but these cases were made public even before Magu became the chairman of the EFCC. So, is it Magu that made your case with EFCC? Why will everybody hold that against Magu?
“I think that is propaganda. Most of these things should be based on facts. And I think we need to separate facts from things that are not true. So, my own view is that those views will change because at the end of the day the views are not based on facts. I have given you fact. And the fact is that what is the responsibility of the senate based on the constitution? We are to make laws”.
Saraki also spoke about the issue of Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (red.), saying insistence of the Senate that he should appear before it in uniform to clear some issues bothering on his office was also in public interest.
“When we talked about Customs, we were talking about something in the interest of Nigerians, but some people now take to blackmail and propaganda and now say it had something to do on car duty. At the end of the day, when the facts came out you could not hear anything anymore”, he said.
Giving the scorecard of the 8th National Assembly which resumed session on June 9, 2015, Saraki stated that the relationship between the legislative and executive arms of government is more cordial than what used to obtain under successive governments.
“Even in the time of Obansajo, and in the PDP, people in those dayse could not get all ministers approved. This is the first time that all ministerial appointments have been approved, that’s over 90 something percent”, he said.
He stated, however, that the lawmakers were not blinded to the checks and balances in a democracy, stressing that the executive went ahead to increase the electricity tariff against protest by the Senate.
“Now who said no, you cannot do this to Nigerians? When they increased data tariff, who stepped out and said no? Even the case of the customs, which is wrong, who came forward?” He queried.
The Senate president also assured Nigerians of quick assent to the 2017 budget recently passed by the National Assembly.
Noting that the lawmakers have completed their statutory responsibility as far as 2017 budget was concerned, he said, “Well, you know am not the executive, this question should go to the executive. All I can reassure Nigerians is that am sure it will be signed very soon. I’m not sure of the number days but am sure”.