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N5.5bn NASS Car Purchase: CSOs kick, condemn reaction by Senate

…call on army to vacate premises of Sahara Reporters

By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja

Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, at the weekend, kicked and condemned reaction by the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, over criticisms and questions raised by Nigerians on move to purchase Sport Utility Vehicles, SUVs, worth N5.5 billion for each of the 469 federal lawmakers.

N5.5bn NASS Car Purchase: CSOs kick, condemn reaction by Senate

Speaking on the issue was the Convener, Concerned Nigerians, CN, Deji Adeyanju, who in a telephone chat with Vanguard described the  Senate Leader’s statement as “insulting the sensibility of Nigerians”, and added that Nigerians have the constitutional right to demand accountability and should not be cowed and shutdown.

According to Adeyanju who is also a human right activist, the move by the lawmakers will be a waste of taxpayers’ money, hence it will be to import the SUVs instead to patronize a local manufacturer and assembler of cars, Innoson Motors, in Nigeria.

He said: “Anything they are doing is criminality against the Nigerian people and a crime against humanity because how can you justify the high level of exploitation of the Nigerian people?

“The Senate President is insulting the sensibility of Nigerians that it is even ridiculous for the Nigerian people to challenge wastage of government. We are in a very sad place as a country.

“The revolution that they are avoiding will inevitably happen in this country because when this kind of behavior continues, Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gun powder and it is only a matter of time. A country where people who are not up to 5, 000 are holding the destiny of 200 million people to ransom.

“A country where just 109 senators will drive vehicles that can take care of several hospitals nationwide and the Senate President will insult the sensibility of Nigerians. How can such a country make progress?

“You bought cars of millions last year and this year again.  Look at the convoy of the President and all you see in the convoy of the President are German cars (Mercedes Benz) and Japanese cars. Look at the convoy of the United States President and all you see in the convoy are America made cars. When you come to car production and assembly of cars is our national pride.

“We have a local manufacturer and assembler of cars, Innoson, and he is an employer of labour, and his cars should be national pride. US President uses Chevrolet, Limousines, and GMCs. The German Chancellor use Mercedes cars, also look at the Chinese and Japanese, but in Nigeria, we have a manufacturer and assembler of cars none of the government officials patronize him.

“Look at the convoy of the Nigerian Senate President, none of Nigeria made cars is not in his convoy. These are the same people who ban the importation of rice and that Nigerians must eat local rice but they want to drive Japanese and German cars, all their food and clothing are imported, but they want the poor people to die and this is the same government that has partially closed the land borders. The President does not support local content. They are importing cars and that is waste upon waste.”

On the siege laid by the Nigerian Army at the premises of Sahara Reporters, he (Adeyanju) said it was an illegal action and intimidation of the media organization.

It will be recalled that the owner of the online media outfit and the presidential candidate of African Alliance Congress, AAC, in 2019 presidential election, Omoleye Sowore, was arrested the Department of State Services, DSS, over alleged call for revolution, and recently was charged to court for treasonable felony, cyberstalking President Muhammadu Buhari, among other offences.

“It is gradually becoming a norm now in this country, especially under this government and illegality has become legality, and legality has become illegality.

“For those who challenge the government in any way should expect the worse to happen that is what is happening to Sahara Reporters. Journalists are so afraid now and are careful not to publish what will offend the government.

“The doctrine of democracy is very simple; freedom of the press is not negotiable, conscience, association, movement, and others. The attempt to take away the fundamental right of Sahara Reporters amounts to the abuse of the tenets of democracy.

“We cannot say we claim to practice democracy and the on other we are practicing tyranny or dictatorship. It is an assault on democracy and is unacceptable. The situation can only get worse, where the media is gagged”, he said.

He also disclosed that CSOs will hit the streets on Monday 24 September 2019 to demand the release of Sowore, “because of we mindful that his bail application would be taken on Monday”, he said.

Also reacting to the development, The Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, Awual Musa Rafsanjani, described the situation as a sad development and was not constitutionally right for the military to lay siege to media houses.

Rafsanjani said, “It is a very sad development to see Military personnel laying ambush and siege to media houses in Nigeria, even if there is an issue with a particular media house they should have allowed the regulatory agency to investigate and if there is a breach I believe the regulatory agency can carry out investigation but not the Army to intimidate and harass media houses (Sahara Reporter).

“It is important that security agents respect the rights of the journalists and allow them to do their job without intimidation. Therefore I will advise the Nigeria Army to stay away from civil matters. We are running a constitutional democracy and press freedom is a major component of our democracy”, he stated.

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