The Global Centre for Conscious Living Against Corruption, on Monday warned that the Senate should not be turned to what it called “a retirement home for suspected looters.
” The centre’s Director-General, Dr. Nwambu Gabriel, made the call in Abuja at a Press conference tagged “Before our esteemed Senate becomes a safe haven for some corrupt ex-governors.
” Gabriel expressed concerns that the National Assembly, particularly the Senate, is “deteriorating to a safe haven” for former governors who he said are currently being prosecuted by the nation’s anti-corruption agencies.
He said the Senate has been confronted with lots of integrity questions because of the development. He said there was the need for political parties to begin to prevent corrupt former governors or politicians, especially those still standing trial over alleged corruption, from seeking “refuge” in the National Assembly.
Gabriel said, as of the last count, about 15 ex-governors who are standing trial for corruption are in the Senate.
He said, “The Senate should not be a retirement home for looters. “Although, former governors standing trial on corruption charges are presumed innocent until proved guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction, some people still argued that it is morally wrong to field such persons to run for any public office.”
He argued that the high turnover of alleged corrupt former governors and others will continue to paint the Senate black.
He added, “It is, however, worthy to note that the perceived bad image of the Senate did not start with the 7th or the 8th Senate, but it has been with us since the Fourth Republic’s Senate.
“But this is not a good reason to continue to live with this embedded virus in the political system of the most populous Black nation in the world.
“A former Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Nuhu Aliyu, once stunned his colleagues on the floor of the Senate when he claimed in his outburst that it was a breach of his privilege as a senator to sit in the same chamber with somebody he (Aliyu) arrested for fraud while in office.
“Aliyu did not stop at that, he further claimed that the presence of such a person and others with similar cases pending before court of competent jurisdiction would have created additional image problem for the Senate.
“Senator Aliyu did not immediately name the suspected fraudster in the hallowed chamber, but his outburst was seen then as a big blow to the pious image of the Senate.
” Gabriel said the only way to restore public confidence in the Senate was to purge the chamber of corrupt politicians. Senators, he argued, should be men and women of impeccable character. He, therefore, urged the courts to conclude work on senators who have pending corruption cases.
“It becomes pertinent, therefore, that the electorate need to demand the removal of alleged corrupt persons from participating in our electoral process.
“If the people in their constituencies refuse to understand that they have elected ‘thieves,’ then it is left to the media and human rights activists to continue to hold them accountable,” he added.