Foremost civil rights group in Nigeria, the Campaign for Democracy (CD), has urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices And Other Related Offences Commission (ICOC) to beam their searchlights on the National Assembly members at both the upper and the lower legislative chambers.
The CD, in a statement by its Secretary General, Pastor Ifeanyi Odili, and made available to journalists in Abuja on Saturday, specifically asked the anti-graft agencies to thoroughly probe the alleged bribery scandal involving a ranking senator and 70 newly elected senators for the 10th Senate.
The media had, last week, reported a meeting between a senator and elected senators when the sum of $10,000 was allegedly shared to each of the 70 senators.
The CD said: “We have it through our impeccable source that some ranking senators have started using their ill-gotten wealth to woe the returning senators and the new members who have just received their certificates of return from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) last week with dollars and other hard currencies in order to win their votes when electing principal officers of the National Assembly.
“If we allow these politicians to use money to induce the newly elected members of the 10th National Assembly, the nation will not really get it right again.
“We are afraid that such practice could plunge the nation into another round of quagmire and the leadership of the National Assembly will not be able to join hands with the Executive to fight corruption headlong since they are products of corruption. It takes a corrupt senator to lobby positions with money.
“We have reliably gathered that aspirants for the position of the Senate Presidency have started reaching out to both returning and newly elected senators with huge amount of hard currencies with a view to getting their votes on assumption of office come June 2023.
“The EFCC and the ICPC should, as a matter of urgency, swing into action and probe the disturbing phenomenon to save our nascent democracy.
“The anti-graft agencies must also ensure that no senator that is facing corruption charges or have pending cases in court is allowed to take a sensitive position in the 10th Senate.
“They must all be thoroughly checked and cleared before they are allowed to contest any of the sensitive positions, most importantly, that of the Senate President.
“Most worrisome, some of the senators are still having cases at the courts ranging from money laundering and other corruption cases.
“This, we are poised to resist, if we must rid Nigeria of corruption which has become very endemic in our body system. We want senators whose track records at the Senate are unblemished.”
The civil rights group wondered “why the aspirant who is already giving out dollars failed to queue behind the zoning arrangements which will give room for equity, fairness and Justice”.
Drawing from the above, the CD said: “The anti-graft agencies must live up to people’s expectations by moving in and foreclose any possibility of turning the 10th Senate to den of corruption.
“It is critical to note that the Senate Presidency and other sensitive positions are not for sale if we want the nation to come out of its economic doldrum, stagnation or depression.”