The Nigerian Senate has begun investigating claims that a bullet-proof Range Rover worth N298 million seized by the Nigeria Customs Service belongs to Senator Bukola Saraki, President of the Senate.
Simultaneously, investigation has also commenced into a certificate scandal involving Senator Dino Melaye, following claims that he did not graduate from the university.
Sahara Reporters disclosed in a report on March 18, 2017 that the reason the Nigerian Senate seem to be at loggerheads with the Controller General of the Nigeria Customs, Co. Hammed Ali, is due to the seizure of the SUV said to belong to the Senate President.
SR noted in its disclosure that the SUV was intercepted and impounded January 11, 2017 for having fake documents.
The online medium, also, revealed that the certificate being used by Dino Melaye, allegedly issued by the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Kaduna, is a fake one.
Senator Ali Ndume, former Majority Leader of the Senate, said at the plenary session of the Upper Legislative House on Tuesday that Melaye’s case should not be ignored as similar cases in the past were probed.
“One has to do with the distinguished Senator Bukola Saraki, the Senate President, and it was reported in a paper; I have it here. With your permission, I will want to, after making presentation, lay it down. It says that, ‘Senate on Vengeance After Nigeria Customs seized Senator Saraki’s bullet-proof Range Rover Over Fake Documents.’
“My colleagues that are following events, particularly online, have seen, heard or read the train of abuses on this Senate and the misconception of the fact that we invited the Customs CG based on a very unpopular policy that affects the people we represent. But now, we are faced with this and the (Senate) President has been found in this National Assembly.
“During the 4th Assembly, Salisu Buhari was accused of certificate forgery; he was investigated and determined. After that, in the 5th Assembly, Bello Masari was accused of certificate forgery (secondary school); it was investigated and was cleared. In the 6th Senate, Dimeji Bankole was accused of not having NYSC certificate; it was investigated and he had to show his NYSC certificate.
“Now, that brings me to the second matter. In the National Assembly, here in the Senate of the 4th Assembly, Enwerem was accused and it was also investigated. Wabara was accused of collecting bribe and it was investigated and determined. So, a lot of precedences have been set. Now, the second matter of privilege affects my colleague, Sheikh Dino Melaye, and it is in the Punch of today (Tuesday) on Page 10; I have the newspaper. In Punch, it says, ‘Dino Melaye in first-degree certificate scandal.’”
“Therefore, accordingly, I will appeal we refer the matter to Ethics and Privileges to investigate so that our colleagues would be cleared and this Senate will stand as it is supposed to.”
Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Senate President, while presiding over the plenary session, referred the matter to the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, which is expected to file a report within the next four weeks.
Despite the allegations, the Senate President, through Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, said the allegations “lacks basis as it was outright falsehood.”
Olaniyonu said Senator Saraki has no relationship whatsoever with the car, pointing out that the fake documents were clear evidence of his non-involvment.
“A supplier was engaged by the Senate to supply a vehicle. While transferring the vehicle between Lagos and Abuja, it was impounded by the Customs. We believe that is an issue between the supplier and the Customs because the Senate has not taken delivery. So, why is somebody trying to drag in the name of Saraki into the issue.
“The documents on the vehicle are there for the general public to view and make their conclusions. Now that the matter has been referred to the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, all the facts will be out.”
Senator Melaye, in his reaction to the certificate scandal, however, said he is open to being investigated.
“I want to say, to me, it is a welcome development. Democracy is about investigation and no senator is above investigation. To me, it is a welcome development and it will finally clear the air on all the malicious and vindictive allegations.
“To say that I did not graduate from ABU is to say that I am not a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. ABU is a very prestigious university in this country and it is not possible for one to be running a master’s programme in the university when one did not graduate from a university. I have successfully completed one and I am doing the second one.
“I want to announce that this is the eighth degree that I am pursuing. I am also a graduate of University of Abuja, where I did Masters in Policy Analysis. I am a graduate of London School of Economics and Political Science. I am also a graduate of Harvard University. The course I am pursuing now will make it my eighth degree.”
“I have my admission letters, results, certificate of discharge from ABU. Not only that; I was the Student Union Government President of ABU. On three occasions, I was the most popular student on campus.”