Tuesday, March 21, 2017 4:43 pm
The Senate at plenary on Tuesday directed the Committee on Ethics and Privileges to investigate alleged irregularities on payment of car importation duty leveled against its President, Bukola Saraki as well as allegations of certificate forgery against one of its members, Sen. Dino Melaye.
This followed a point of order raised by former Leader of the Senate, Mohammed Ndume, during plenary.
Citing a publication in the Punch Newspaper of March 20, entitled “Dino Melaye in fake degree scandal”, Ndume said that the issue bordered on the privileges of the Senate.
“We should refer this matter to the Committee on Ethics and Privileges to investigate so that our colleague will be cleared and this Senate will stand as is supposed to be,” he said.
Ndume said that another issue bordering on the privileges of the senate was one on President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, accused of vendetta with the Nigerian Customs Service.
“Newspaper reports say Senate on vengeance after Nigerian Customs seized Sen. Saraki’s bulletproof Range Rover over fake documents.
“My colleagues following events, particularly online, must have read rains of abuses on this senate and the misconception that we invited the C-G of Customs based on an unpopular policy that affects the people we represent.
“Now we are faced with this and the precedence have been formed in the National Assembly.
“In the 4th Assembly, Rep. Salisu Buhari, was accused of certificate forgery; he was investigated.
“In the 5th Assembly, Rep. Bello Masari was accused of secondary school certificate forgery,” he recalled.
In his remarks, Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided at the plenary, referred the matter to the Committee on Ethics and Privileges, and directed it to report back in four weeks.
But the two senators have been defending themselves against the allegations.
Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu, Special Adviser to President of the Senate on Media and Publicity, said allegations linking Saraki to car seized by Nigerian Customs Service were untrue.
In a statement in Abuja on Tuesday, Olaniyonu said the allegation of importation of the vehicle by Saraki “lacked basis and was an outright falsehood.
“From the facts and documents about the seized vehicle, it is obvious that the President of the Senate has nothing to do with the importation of any vehicle.
“A supplier was engaged by the Senate to supply a vehicle and while transferring the vehicle between Lagos and Abuja, it was impounded by Customs.
“We believe that is an issue between the supplier and the Customs because the Senate has not taken delivery.
“So, why is somebody trying to drag the name of Saraki into the issue?
“The documents on the vehicle are there for the general public to view and make their conclusions.
“Now that the matter has been referred to the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, all the facts will be out”, Olaniyonu stated.
Also, while reacting to the allegation of certificate forgery against him, Melaye told newsmen that the allegation was a welcomed development.
“Democracy is about investigation and no senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is above investigation. We welcome the development.
“It will finally clear the air of all malicious allegations. Sahara Reporters are obsessed with me.
“They use me for marketing and whenever their profile and patronage is down they use me to generate traffic.
“I will not be surprised if by tomorrow Sahara Reporters say that I am not a Nigerian.
“To say that I did not graduate from Ahmadu Bello University is to say that I am not a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,’’ he said.
Melaye said that he had a Masters Degree in International Relations and Diplomacy.
“I am already running another Masters in the same university in Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice. This makes it my seventh degree.”
He said that he was not disenchanted or perturbed, adding that the intention was to distract him.
“I will continue to speak the truth at all times. I am not speaking to be liked and praised,” the Senator representing Kogi West in the National Assembly said.