Civil society advocacy group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has called for the impeachment of Senate President Godswill Akpabio over the holiday allowance comments he made while addressing lawmakers on Wednesday.
The former Akwa Ibom State governor had stirred controversy following a viral video in which he stated that the Clerk of the National Assembly had credited accounts of the Senators with tokens to enable them enjoy their holidays.
“In order to enable all of us to enjoy our holidays, a token has been sent to our various accounts by the Clerk of the National Assembly,” Akpabio had said.
However, he quickly recanted after he was reminded that the comments had gone public by saying what he meant to say was that he had sent prayers to the email boxes of the legislators.
But in a statement on Wednesday night, HURIWA called for him to step aside and subject himself to the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) for investigation for violating the relevant laws on lawful allowances or be impeached without further waste of time.
Describing the Senate under the leadership of Akpabio as sleepy, rudderless, cash conscious, unpatriotic and anti-poor, the rights group warned Nigerians to be “ready for a long-drawn battle to safeguard democracy because given unfolding circumstances, the legislature and the Judiciary were now both captives and political hostages of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.”
It said “Following the public outrage and skepticism Senator Akpabio’s assertion has ignited, HURIWA demands that the Senate President provide comprehensive clarification regarding the source, purpose, and amount of the funds disbursed.
“With a firm call to action, HURIWA emphasizes that if the Senate President fails to provide this information, Nigerians will be left with no choice but to believe that these funds were, in fact, payments for ministerial clearance.
“The timing of this revelation is deeply concerning, especially in the wake of the controversial ministerial screening process. If Senator Akpabio doesn’t want we, the people of Nigeria, to think aloud about the cash largesse, he announced for Senators, then let him surrender to ICPC immediately for investigation. Failure to do so should be taken as an affront to constitutionalism and therefore should be impeached or recalled by his constituents,” the statement issued by HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko said.
“Are National Assembly members entitled to holiday allowances? If so, how much are they entitled to, and have they met the duration of service required to start earning allowances?
“Furthermore, HURIWA wonders whether holiday allowances were included in the approved payments under the revenue mobilization structure,” the group added.
“HURIWA’s crux of concern revolves around the entitlement and disbursement of these allowances for National Assembly members if they are stipulated by the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission.
“These include accommodation (200% of basic salary), domestic staff (75% of basic salary), utilities (30% of basic salary), house maintenance (5% of basic salary), wardrobe (25% of basic salary), and furniture (300% of basic salary).
“There is an urgent need for transparency, fairness, and accountability within Nigeria’s legislative processes, urging the EFCC to take immediate action and summon the Senate President to clarify the matter, ensuring that Nigerians were provided with accurate and complete information.”