The Senate has criticised a former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, over his comments on the budget passage by the National Assembly.
Professor Jega had reportedly accused the lawmakers of being notorious for demanding bribes while delivering a lecture on Monday in Abuja.
The lecture, titled ‘Peace Building and Good Governance for Sustainable Development in Nigeria’, was part of activities organised to mark the 2018 Democracy Day.
Jega allegedly claimed that the lawmakers often take bribes under the pretext of committee work and oversight functions, stating that bribe-taking and giving in government agencies should be included in the war against corruption.
The matter was presented on the floor of the Senate during Wednesday’s plenary by one of the senators from Bauchi State, Isah Misau.
Senator Misau noted that such allegation was unacceptable, even in the presence of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.
Also reacting to the comments, Senator Saraki informed the Senate that other lawmakers have also approached him over the same issue.
He said such statement does not encourage the fight against corruption, noting that it was a slight on the National Assembly.
The Senate President further challenged the former INEC boss to come forward with any evidence to prove his allegations against the lawmakers.
He said, “On the Point raised by Senator Misau, myself and Mr Speaker were at the programme and we were very embarrassed by such comments.
“We all know that all of us are committed to the fight against corruption; to say what he has said is to suggest that every member of the National Assembly is part of this, or even those that are not part of this are colluding in this action — which is far from the truth.”
”I think Professor Jega, as somebody who is respected, should come out and name these kinds of members that he is aware of but if he cannot, he should not come and make such statements.
”Going forward, all distinguished and respected Nigerians should know that if there are cases like this, they should name these people and see what the institution will do to rectify the problem,” Saraki added.