From: FRED ITUA, Abuja
Twenty four hours after Senate President Bukola Saraki, alleged that the Senate was being blackmailed by unnamed persons, the Red Chamber, on Tuesday, vowed that it would not be intimated by external forces.
The Senate also vowed that it would protect its integrity by doing whatever it takes to ensure that it is not taken for granted, while discharging its constitutional responsibilities.
The Senate which made the position after an hour and 30 minutes closed-door session said it took the decision, following series of coordinated attacks against it by external forces.
Saraki, who made the disclosure, did not give details or reveal the identity of the external forces lawmakers have vowed to fight.
In the words of Saraki, “The Senate in a closed-door session, discussed the various attacks on the National Assembly, especially on the Senate, for performing its constitutional duties.
“And the Senate resolved to defend the integrity of the Senate against such attacks and will not be intimidated from carrying our constitutional duties at all times.”
The Senate’s position may not be unconnected to its recent face-off with key members of the executive, particularly the Comptroller-General of Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (retd) and the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. David Babachir Lawal.
Until last week, the Senate and Customs CG were engaged in exchange of words, over the refusal of the latter to appear before the Senate in service uniform. Ali, not ready to cave in, said he will not appear before the Senate, since a case was already in court regarding the issue.
On the part of the SGF, he told the Senate ad-hoc Committee on the Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East, through a letter, that he will not appear and that he had already gone to court to challenge the legality of his appearance.
Twenty hours after he wrote the first letter, he made a U-turn. Instead, he begged the Senate committee to give him enough time to prepare.
Saraki and his ally, Sen. Dino Melaye, are also being probed by the Senate Ethics committee over claims that the Senate President’s imported bullet proof Ranger Rover Sport vehicle, valued at N289 million was seized by Customs officers, while the latter is battling to clear his name over claims that he forged his university degree certificate.
On Monday, when Saraki appeared before the Senate Ethics committee, he revealed: “I believe that we must continue to build strong institutions. I am not an importer and at no time did I import any vehicle. It was done through the National Assembly. I did not even order that any vehicle should be imported. What they are alleging is not true.
“There is no document that bears my name. I am here to clear my name. This policy had no value and that was why this motion came up. Those who want to fight back went back to see if they can have something to blackmail us.
“Honestly, this is a great day for our democracy and for the Senate President to appear. Today, it is me, tomorrow, it could be anybody. Tomorrow, I will not be here. When we leave here, we need to leave a legacy. Institutions can only be strong when the parliament is strong. That is why I came here, no matter how ridiculous it may have appeared.”