An Islamic group, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has criticised Nigerian lawmakers on their ‘negative’ role in the anti-corruption campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The group in a statement on Tuesday said the lawmakers are responsible for the negative report on corruption in the country.
MURIC’s position is in response to a report by PREMIUM TIMES detailing how senators and members of the House of Representatives are demanding bribes as conditions for passing the 2018 budgets of Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Some heads of MDAs, who spoke with this newspaper in separate interviews alleged that the lawmakers were desperate and bent on shaking them down because “the 2018 budget is the last they would consider before the next general elections”.
The lawmakers have, however, denied the allegations.
MURIC in a statement signed its director, Ishaq Akintola, noted that the lawmakers’ attitude is frustrating the anti-corruption war of the current administration.
“The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is astounded by this disclosure. It is most embarrassing, highly scandalous and very preposterous. This practice is irreconcilable with the prestigious status of the representatives of the Nigerian people. It is a monumental tragedy and a huge disappointment. Our representatives have let us down. Our hearts bleed.
“The attitude of Nigerian lawmakers to the war against corruption may also have been partly responsible for the recent negative report on corruption in Nigeria by some international agencies.
“Although the lawmakers have denied this allegation, the fact that the Director-General of the Budget Office, Mr Ben Akabueze, affirmed that all the details needed by the lawmakers had been provided is quite didactic. It means the lawmakers are merely looking for ways to arm-twist heads of MDAs into compromising funds entrusted to them for development.”
MURIC said the lawmakers could get away with such practice because previous perpetrators have not been punished.
The group traced the practice to the 2003 budget.
“Apart from the testimony of the DG Budget Office, the allegation against the lawmakers can also be corroborated by precedence. Some lawmakers did it before and got away with it. It is on record that Nigerian senators demanded gratification to the tune of fifty four million naira (N54 million) from Mallam Nasir El-Rufai as a condition for ratifying his ministerial appointment in 2003.
”To pass the budget of the Ministry of Education, they also demanded fifty five million naira. Senator Adighije later admitted being part of the committee of senate on education that took bribe from Fabian Osuji, former Minister of Education.
“Surprisingly, however, nobody was arrested. None was prosecuted. Nobody was jailed. This is why they have the temerity to do it again. But they have miscalculated. A war against corruption is ongoing and Nigerians know where the lawmakers stand. Nigerians know the main cassu belli ( an act or situation that provokes or justifies a war) for the hostility between the executive and the legislature. For while President Muhammadu Buhari is determined to stem the high tide of corruption, Nigerian lawmakers are frustrating every move in that direction.”
MURIC urged Nigerians to ask their representatives relevant questions and ”vote out corrupt, unpatriotic and egocentric lawmakers.”
The group also called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to protect heads of MDAs who are ”currently under pressure from the National Assembly.”
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