By Yusuph Olaniyonu, Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, to President of the Senate.
Vehicle Importation: Senate Clears Saraki
Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions today exonerated Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki of allegation of importing a vehicle which was said to have been cleared with fake documents but was later impounded by the Nigerian Customs.
Reading the 10-page report of the committee during plenary sitting presided over by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, chairman of the committee, Senator Sam Anyanwu said from all evidence taken during the two days that the committee sat, Saraki has nothing to do with the importation of the vehicle.
The matter has been referred to the committee on 21 March, 2017 following a complaint on the floor by Senator Ali Ndume who “drew the attention of the Senate to “insinuation by the media that the invitation of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) by the Senate was informed by the seizure of a bullet-proof SUV vehicle belonging to the Senate President, attempted to be cleared with fake National Assembly documents but seized by the Customs Services, and urged the Senate to look into the matter”.
The committee stated that from the evidence of the importer, Mr Tokunbo Akindele, the car dealer, Mr. Lanre Shittu, Chairman of the Senate Services Committee, Senator Ibrahim Gobir and the Senate President, “the National Assembly does not import cars, it only buy cars” and “the car was not cleared with National Assembly documents”.
According to the report, the importer of the vehicle, Akindele told the committee that ” he was not approached by Senator Bukola Saraki or the National Assembly to import the bullet-proof Range Rover” while the car dealer, Shittu also said “he was not contracted by the Senate President or National Assembly to import the car; that he only sold it to the National Assembly as an SUV fully cleared, that he no longer needed”.
In its recommendations, the committee exonerated Saraki as it stated that the Senate President knew nothing about the importation and clearing of the car.
In the same vein, the Anyanwu committee cleared Senator Dino Melaye of allegations arising from “media insinuations that he did not complete his first degree programme”. In the Melaye case, the committee took evidence from Ndume, Melaye and Prof. Ibrahim Garba, Vice Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
The Senate however resolved to suspend Senator Ndume for six months with effect from 28 March, 2017 “for bringing Senator Dino Melaye, his colleague, and the institution of the Senate to unbearable disrepute at this time of our National life when caution, patriotism, careful consideration and due diligence should be our watchwords”