SENATE President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, yesterday, lampooned former chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, asking him to shut up and stop making reckless statements against the lawmakers, if he cannot come up with names to buttress his allegations.
Speaking, yesterday, at plenary over the allegations raised by Jega at DemocracyDay lecture on Monday that senators and members of the House of Representatives were notorious for bribe-taking, Saraki said the former INEC boss’ statements were serious embarrassment to the National Assembly.
Saraki, who was responding to a point of order, order 43 (Personal Explanation) raised by Senator Isah Misau, (APC Bauchi Central) on the allegation, said he was at the programme with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, when Jega made what he described as blanket embarrassing statement, despite the efforts of the National Assembly to join other arms of government to fight corruption in the country.
Saraki said: “I was at the programme,with the speaker and we were highly embarrassed by this kind of comment. All of us are committed to the fight against corruption.
“But I believe it (such statement) doesn’t help the fight against corruption, it is a slight to the integrity of some of us, where such a statement is made.”
He, however, challenged Jega to expose those lawmakers he knew were involved in corrupt practices with evidence.
“If he (Jega) has those kinds of evidences, he should bring it forward, because to say that, is to suggest that every member of the National Assembly is part of this, even those who are not part of this are condoling this action which is far from the truth.
“I think what the professor, who is respected, should do is to come out and mention those members he is aware of. If he can’t come out and name them, he should not make such branding statements.”
Saraki assured that the National Assembly under his leadership would not get involved in corruption or attempt to cover any member who got involved in the act of indiscipline.
Earlier in his presentation, Senator Misau said: “My point of order is based on the lecture made during the Democracy Day lecture, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was in attendance.
‘’During the lecture, the guest lecturer who is an elder statesman and the former chairman of INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega made a statement which I feel I have to bring to this floor. He said some committee chairmen of the National Assembly are notorious for demanding or collecting bribes, which I feel is unfortunate for somebody well respected to say.
“I feel that the statement is very weighty because that programme (Democracy Day lecture) was televised live. The thing they need to understand is that these live programmes are watched around the world. And at the time he made that statement, I am a member of ECOWAS Parliament.
“After the lecture, I went to the parliament and the question most of the parliamentarians were asking me is whether what the Professor said is true or not.
“I find it difficult to explain to them and I feel that not only Professor Jega but anybody that would make statements concerning the credibility of this Senate and its committee chairmen should be bold enough to mention names, especially when it is about fighting corruption in Nigeria.
“If we really want to fight corruption and want to help the government, he would not be making such statements without mentioning the committee chairmen and those who gave him that sort of information. I felt embarrassed. We need the professor to throw more light on what he said.”