by Lekan Olanrewaju
You think the Arunma Oteh-Herman Hembe scandal is the worst of them all? Well think again. Since the Fourth Republic kicked off, we’ve rolled from one legislative drama to the next!
In the wake of the current “Mealgate” scandal rocking the Nigerian Senate and Securities and Exchanges Commission, we’ve been forced once again to pay attention to what some might call the outrageous proceedings of Nigerian lawmakers.
Yes, “once again”, as this certainly isn’t the first time, and “classical snails” certainly aren’t the most bizarre elements to be involved in a corruption scandal.
Below are 6 of of the most scandalous senate hearings!
Main Culprit: Fabian Osuji
Major Associates: Dr PS Abdu, Education Permanent Secretary
Other players: Mrs Paulina I Olaniyi, Cashier of the ministry; Mr Andrew Ugwu, Head messenger in the ministry.
This scandal involved the Minister of Education Professor Fabian Osuji being dismissed by president Olusegun Obasanjo, following his indictment by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for offering a N50 million to the National Assembly. The President chose to announce this in a radio and television broadcast, where he said he was shocked as he had previously warned ministers, ministries and extra ministerial departments against such. He also went on to “name and shame” the Permanent Secretary for Education Dr PS Abdu, the NUC Executive Secretary Prof. Peter Okebukola, and five other directors. The directors were said to have raised N35million from votes under their control and N20million from the National Universities Commission.
Main Culprit: Iyabo Obasanjo
Major Associates: “Mrs Damilola Akinlawo”
Other players: Adenike Grange, Gabriel Aduku
This controversy involved budget mishap, during which the Egba-Lisabi collectives of Abeokuta memorably wrote a letter demanding the resignation of the senator. The daughter of the former president was allegedly involved in a contract deal with an Austrian company M. Schneider which bid for a job in the power sector through a Nigerian Company Akiya Nigeria Limited, in which she was said to have substantial interests. The senator allegedly presented herself as “Mrs Damilola Akinlawo” while entering into contract. She was also charged with embezzlement of around 470 million naira of public health funds, along with two other ministers who were forced to resign, Adenike Grange and Gabriel Aduku. During the course of the investigation, she claimed to have been subjected to “trauma of the highest order” from the EFCC search of her house.
Main Player: Mallam Nasir El-Rufai
Other notable players: Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu, Dr Jonathan Zwingina
We will all remember the Senate Hearings involving the former Director-General of Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, Malam Nasir El-Rufai who had previously accused two high level senators, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu and Dr Jonathan Zwingina of demanding 54 million naira to confirm him. This of course, was seen as a bizarre statement to make, as most assumed if indeed a bribe had been demanded of him, he would have simply paid it, instead of speaking out. He, in a retort, said that he wasn’t out to blackmail anyone. “I was not recruited by The Presidency to spoil the cordial relations that exist between the executive and the legislature, he has no prior negative relationship or ill-will towards any of the senators” He was also implicated in a privatization scandal, where he was accused of collecting bribes from Mike Adenuga. He released a statement saying he knew he would be accused. “When Malam el-Rufai appeared before the Senate’s ad-hoc committee on privatisation on August 11, 2011, he had no illusions about the results such committees produce, given his previous experience.” said the statement. “Prior to el- Rufai’s presentation, Ahmed Lawan, chair of the committee, said the public hearing was not a witch-hunt, and el-Rufai retorted that it was up to the committee to demonstrate that.”
Can’t keep a good woman down
In what went on to popularly be known as Ettehgate, the then Speaker of the House of Reps was embroiled in 2007 in a scandal over the awarding of contracts to renovate the residence of the speaker and deputy speaker. The Speaker was accused of spending 628 million on renovations which had previously been carried out for 15 million and once as low as 2.5 million. The circus involved the house “going on holiday” for 2 weeks under the guise of Ramadan. She officially resigned on the 30th of October after being declared guilty on all counts
She was however cleared of all charges 4 years later. Interestingly, her replacement went on to be rounded up by the EFCC for troubles of his own.
Main Player: Evan(s?) Enwerem
Other notable players: Chief Chuba Okadigbo
Evan Enwerem served as chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority between 1980 and 1983. He was elected Governor of Imo state in 1991 and was elected to the Nigerian Senate to represent the Imo-East senatorial zone. He went on to beat Chief Chuba Okadigbo for the Senate Presidency in 1999. He, however, didn’t last long, as the Nigerian Senate Committee began investigating him for corruption. Then of course, there came the trouble over his name. He was accused of falsifying his name, and a controversy ensued, over whether his name was really “Evan” or “Evans’. He was eventually removed from his position, and replaced by rival Chuba Okadigbo.
Due to what they must have (for whatever bizarre reason) viewed as the widespread and very public attempts by homosexual couples to get married, the Nigerian Senate in November 2011 moved to criminalise homosexual marriages. This resulted in a 14 year jail term being declared for any who “contracted” marriages between members of the same-sex. The Senate President also declared that “my faith as Christian abhors it”, once more displaying the selflessness of Nigerian leaders. “I cannot understand it” he said, because of course, the laws of a country should be dependent on what one man is capable of understanding, or not.
A senator getting married typically isn’t exactly an earthshaking event, but when the bride just happens to be a 13 year old, raised eyebrows, scandalous headlines and widespread outrage are just some of the things that will result. Such was the case with Senator Ahmed Yerima in 2010. A petition by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and intense public pressure led to the Senate direting its Ethics and Public Petition Committee to carry out a critical investigation into the marriage of the former Governor of Zamfara State to his Egyptian bride. The National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP) Tuesday interrogated the Senator, but he remained defiant, using the Q’uran as his defence.
He reportedly told the investigators that in Islam, the age of a female was not relevant when it came to marriage. He said that the constitution of the country gave him the right to practice his religion and in doing so he had to abide by all its tenets, which apparently included joining underaged North-Eastern African females in matrimony. And that was the end of the matter.
What a country! Did we manage to leave anyone out? Did you miss any of these? Let’s hear from you!