By Henry Umoru & Dapo Akinrefon
ABUJA — THE Senate, yesterday, charged President Muhammadu Buhari to caution chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption, PACAC, Professor Itse Sagay, who it described as a purveyor of hate speech against the institution of the legislature, describing him as a political nonentity determined to collapse the institutions of democracy.
The latest furore between the Senate and Sagay, followed his assertion in a lecture in Lagos that the salary of a Nigerian senator was $1.7 million per annum, well above the $400,000 annual salary of President of the United States.
He also particularly accused the 8th Senate of being hostile to the war against corruption, noting that the Senator Bukola Saraki-led Senate had put obstacles to impede the anti-graft war.
The Senate in a reaction, accused Sagay of spreading lies and instigating hate campaign against the federal legislature.
But Sagay, in a swift reaction, yesterday, told Vanguard that he stood on the pedestal of truth and would not stop his attacks until the senators stopped milking the country and breeding the environment that had caused armed robbery, Boko Haram, kidnapping and other social vices to thrive in the country.
The Senate in a statement articulated by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, accused Sagay of always using every opportunity he had to disparage the Federal Legislature by using uncouth and unprintable words to describe legislators and the institution they represent.
Senate on Sagay
He said: “Ordinarily, we would ignore Sagay whose statements and attitude present him as a rascal and sadist, instead of a former university teacher.
“However, his last speech in Lagos during which he was reeling out false and exaggerated figures about the salaries and allowances of legislators and also lied about the passage of anti-corruption bills, showed that he just deliberately set out to undermine the legislative institution and lower its reputation in the estimation of right thinking members of the society, and we, therefore, believe we should put him in his rightful place.
“As an academic whose creed should be to find facts and make comments based on truth, we believe that Sagay should stop spreading beer parlour rumours about the salaries and allowances of legislators when he could simply get the facts from the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Allocation Commission, RMFAC, which is the body constitutionally charged with the responsibility of fixing salaries and allowances of all public officials.
“Let us make it clear that our salaries and allowances are open books and the details can be taken from the RMFAC by any interested party.
“Prof. Sagay at his lecture in Lagos, also made comparisons which did little credit to his background as a lecturer as he was talking of the salary of the United States President and that of a Nigerian legislator.
“That is like comparing oranges with apples. Only a senile, jaded, rustic and outdated Professor of Law will make such a comparison, which falls flat on its face, even to an ordinary lay man. Surely, Sagay is basing his analysis on street talks.
“Sagay could not even check the records before proclaiming that ‘the National Assembly has not passed a single bill for the promotion of anti-corruption war since it commenced business in July 2015’.
“First, the 8th National Assembly was inaugurated on June 9, 2015, not July. Also, it is on record that the Senate has passed the Whistle Blowers’ Protection Bill, Witness Protection Bill, Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency Bill.
“This man talks like a man who is constantly under the influence of some substance and perhaps possessed as he employs the language of a tout with no civility. He is probably constantly excited and incensed by the fact of having his first opportunity to find himself in the corridors of power.
“He pontificates and talks as if the war against corruption of the Buhari administration depends solely on him to survive. He once publicly attacked the Attorney General of the Federation and accused him of not doing enough to prosecute the war.
“In the Lagos speech, he took a blanket swipe at the judiciary and rubbished that entire institution which he, as a lawyer, has the professional, ethical and constitutional duty to respect.
“This is a man who cannot stand for councillorship election and win. We challenge him to state what his contributions are in the election of our amiable President, Muhammadu Buhari, and what new ideas he has contributed to making the fight against corruption more effective since his appointment.
“With an easily excited man like him as head of an advisory body, the nation has continued to lose anti-corruption cases in courts due to the failure of his advice. He needs to do more work and talk less because media prosecution cannot win the war on corruption.”
Reacting to the Senate’s assertions, Sagay said he spoke the truth.
When asked for his reply, Sagay laughed but was quick to note that he would not stop criticizing members of the National Assembly for allegedly milking the country’s resources.
He said: “I criticize them for the huge amount of money they are taking out of the country. They are creating a situation in which Nigeria does not have enough funds; we have kidnapping, there is Boko Haram, we have militants, armed robbery and so on.
“That is basically what I said. I spoke the truth. They have wardrobe allowance, in other words, we are the ones buying clothes for them to wear. When they arrived Abuja, were they naked? What is their problem?”