By Henry Umoru & Emmanuel Ovuakporie
abuja—Members of the National Assembly, yesterday, in unison, condemned the assertion by the presidential aide, Prof. Itse Sagay that the enemies of the administration’s anti-corruption drive are located in the National Assembly.
Senators and members of the House of Representatives in their reactions, faulted the claim by Sagay in an online newspaper, saying that his assertions were against the spirit and actions of the legislature.
“In fact, the National Assembly has constituted itself into opposition to the anti-corruption struggle. It has mounted a war against the anti-corruption struggle. It has decided to obstruct it at every stage,” Sagay had said.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Anti- Corruption and Financial Matters, Senator Chukwuka Utazi in his reaction, said “The National Assembly can never be an opposition to the anti- corruption war of the government, rather, those who are the enemies of government and opposition to the anti- corruption war are the likes of Sagay and aides of the President , who compromise their views, who see their views as only correct, who say one thing today and tomorrow , they reverse themselves.
“We plead with PACA to stop Sagay from speaking for it, instead let Professor Femi Odekunle, who is in a better position to do that to be speaking for the body for very obvious reasons.”
Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West), on his part said that “Sagay is speaking his age, he should not be taken seriously by anyone.”
On his part, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa (PDP, Abia North) noted that Sagay should not forget in a hurry that the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, were established by the National Assembly.
Senator Ohuabunwa said that the Senate does not expect such utterances from Sagay, adding that if the National Assembly was against the anti- corruption war, it would neither have established the EFCC nor the ICPC.
Members of the House of Representatives across the two major parties also faulted Sagay.
Rep Edward Pwajok (APC, Jos South/East, Plateau) in his reaction said that the refusal by the Presidency to subject the screening of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as the Chairman of the EFCC was tantamount to corruption.
“The constitution and the law setting up the EFCC spelt out how the appointment of the EFCC chairman should be done through confirmation by the Senate. In fact not doing so is even corruption.
“I put it to him that he should go and read the law all over again. The National Assembly is an arm of government, if you look at the constitution, National Assembly is in chapter 4, the executive is in Chapter 5 while the judiciary is in chapter 6. So if he (Sagay) wants to rubbish National Assembly as an institution, you are promoting chaos and anarchy in the polity.
“If there are members that he feels he has problems with, that does not mean he should rubbish the entire institution,” Pwajok who defected from the PDP to the APC, yesterday, said.
The Deputy Majority Leader, Pally Iriase also dismissed Sagay’s claim, describing it as wild.
“This kind of unguarded statement otherwise coming from highly respectable person e Itse Sagay could cause scepticism and reduce faith in our democracy,” Iriase, who represents Owan East/West Fed Constituency, Edo State, said.
“The issue of Magu cannot be blamed on the legislature without reference to the fact that the Directorate of State Security, DSS, consistently issued reports that cast serious aspersion on the fitness of the gentleman in question.
“I did not see why instead of being curious of a sister agency under the presidency should give a damning report about a candidate for confirmation to an important office like EFCC and yet the blame is on the Senate.
The Minority Leader, Leo Ogor on his part, charged Sagay to provide evidence on his allegation, urging him to always investigate his allegations.
“Sagay is a man we have so much respect for, and we even admired as young men, but I think he should try as much as possible to investigate his allegations before he makes them public. There’s no iota of truth in those allegations.”
Uzoma Nkem-Abonta (Ukwa East/West Fed Constituency, Abia) on his part said Sagay spoke out of ignorance.