Saraki and Dogara
• Allegation baseless, aides say
Citing alleged fraudulent involvement in a rent scam, a civil society organisation, Citizens Action to Take Back Nigeria (CATBAN) has demanded the immediate resignation of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and some principal officials of the National Assembly.
While briefing the media in Abuja yesterday, the co-convener of the group, Ibrahim Garba Wale, threatened to mobilise Nigerians to occupy the National Assembly if the officials indicted fail to step aside.
Apart from the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, other officials listed by the group included their deputies, Ike Ekweremadu and Yusuf Suleiman Lasun.
The group recently accused the four principal officials of the Assembly of abuse of office in a N630 million fraud through the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) under the guise of renting and renovating their official residences.
Despite the rebuttal of the allegations by the aides to the officials, the group said it had evidence that they secretly collected the sum of N150 billion and N120 billion as First Line Charge budget for the National Assembly in the first and second year of the current administration without the knowledge of the members.
However, the Special Assistant to the Senate President on Media and Publicity, Yusuf Olaniyonu denied the claim by the group. According to him, “There is no truth in the allegation. In fact, during the preparation of the budget, the Senate President and the Speaker directed the FCDA to remove the N10 billion voted for the construction of their official residence to save cost. The current leadership of the National Assembly will not be part of any illegal payment to anybody.”
Also, the Special Assistant on Media to Dogara, Turaki Hassan described the allegations as spurious. He said the principal officials by their positions were entitled to official accommodation according to the constitution, just like other key state officials who are covered by the government’s monetisation policy.
“Presiding officers of the National Assembly are entitled to official accommodation which is provided by the FCDA as host of the National Assembly. The same is applicable to the President, Vice President and the Chief Justice of Nigeria because their offices were not covered by the monetisation policy.”