Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, was today at the sitting of the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges absolved of complicity in the importation of an impounded car by the car dealer, Lanre Shittu, who brought in the controversial Bullet-Proof Range Rover SUV.
Below are comments by Saraki; a representative of Oando, plc; as well as those of Senator Dino Melaye after being endorsed as a graduate of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, by its Vice Chancellor.
Senate President Bukola Saraki
I use this opportunity to commend the good work that you are doing and your effort and contribution to build the institution of the Senate that we all have sworn to defend and we are all here to do that….
I said I want to come here personally, subject myself to this process because I think we must continue to build this institution and this is part of the process of building this institution.
Most of the questions come to a basic issue.
I am not an importer and at no point did I import an SUV Range Rover. As you know this is a vehicle that is not a personal vehicle. It is a vehicle which was processed through the National Assembly.
I don’t know anything about the importation, I did not appoint any clearing agent or anything like that…
This is not true, those that said it know it is not true, Customs knows it is not true, because we all know that all treated vehicles have end user certificate and there it states clearly who the importer is and these documents are available and there is no document anywhere that shows my name.
So I want to state categorically that this is not true and it is important that I come here and clear my name and put this matter to rest.
We all raised the issue of the policy that is anti-people in the interest of Nigerians. This policy that really had no value at all and that was why this motion came up and we debated it in the interest of Nigerians, but unfortunately those who want to fight back, went and thought there was something to blackmail us with.
But I believe that the issue at hand regarding this issue as I said categorically I am not an importer and I know the documents you have will show clearly that it has nothing to do with me.
I believe that this process is good for us. It will further strengthen our institution. It is a great day for our democracy for me to come before you as the President of the Senate.
We must protect this institution. As members, we will come and go but we must protect this institution.
To ridiculle an institution of this magnitude is not something we should take lightly and that is why I have taken the time to be here.
Today it is me but tomorrow it will be another person. I think it is part of the sacrifice we are making in the work that we are doing that we have this kind of case that did not hold water.
We must protect this institution because this is the only thing we can leave. The difference between military rule and democracy is the parliament. For as long as the parliament is weak, our democracy can never be strong.
Our democracy can only be strong when our parliament is strong and our institutions are strong. It can only be strong if we respect that red book and the Constitution that we swear by.
Anybody who is not ready to do that will not be helping this institution.
That is why I told myself that I must come here no matter how ridiculous I felt it was because the documents are clear. There is no where it said I imported it, it is not my private vehicle.
Senator Anyanwu: …there was an allegation that you imported an SUV and you did not pay the import duties and that was the reason why we are having altercation and issues with the Nigerian Customs.
Based on that we invited him to substantiate his allegation.
This matter will continue because we are inviting Customs, we are inviting the importer of the vehicle, to explain to the committee.
We assure you that the committee will do its job diligently and of course this institution which we have all sworn to protect we will protect.
The importer of the car was invited to give an evidence on the car.
Tokunbo Akindele – (Representative of Oando): In 2015 on behalf of the firm that I work for Oando PLC, we imported a Range Rover Bullet Proof SUV vehicle.
We imported it as the company that needed to use it for the various operations that we have around the country.
The car took longer than was expected and by the time it reached Nigeria in 2015, September, we decided that we will no longer be using the car, so we effectively parked it.
Initially because we are not going to use for any operations whatsoever because we already met the requirements needed.
The process of acquiring the car we mandated a company offshore, to buy the car, amour the car, ship the car, clear the car with Customs and just deliver the car to us as a full-fledged service.
We received the car in September 2015 assuming that all of these things are done, all payments were made for the acquisition, the armouring, the shipping as well as the clearing of which we have necessary evidence.
The car was not imported for the Senate President, Sen. Bukola Saraki.
In the process of clearing the car, we did not receive any documentation from the National Assembly.
We were not a part of clearing the car, we were the customer, we were expected to receive the car for our own use.
The vehicle was not to be used by Sen. Bukola Saraki, it was not imported or acquired for his use at the time the vehicle came into the country.
The National Assembly took receipt of the car through a consignment from us, through Lanre Shittu Motors in December 2015. The car had been in the country for two months and had been sitting with no use and it was at that point that we released it to Lanre Shittu on consignment who sold it to the National Assembly.
At no point did we submit any fake document for the clearing of the car. We followed all due process in terms of payment to the company which handled the entire process for us.
Senator Dino Melaye: `I thank you for the invitation and I want to state my unequivocal confidence in this committee to do justice to this matter.
“I have few documents I would also want to tender to the committee and before I do that I also want to state with every sense of responsibility that I am a graduate of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria.
“I gained admission with an offer of admission on the 6th of September, 1994 and the admission is to study Bachelor of Arts Geography and a copy of that admission letter will be tendered.
“I also have a second document to tender, my acceptance offer by the university. I also have the third document to tender which is my result from the Ahmadu Bello University certifying me a graduate of the school.
“I also have here a document for my registration that I tendered where I have C5 in CRS, A3 in Agric, C6 in Economics, C6 in Geography, C6 in Biology and a credit in English.
“I will also tender that as evidence. I also want to tender—. After my graduation for the Ahmadu Bello University, the school sent my name to the NYSC for the mandatory Service and I participated in the one year NYSC.
“I served in Police College Kaduna and by the grace of God, that year I won the National Prize of the DG and it is on record and verifiable and I beg to tender my discharge certificate from NYSC