3 February 2008

Nigeria: NASS Controversy - Why Nuhu Aliyu Refused to Mention Names

Abuja — Contrary to the position of Senator Nuhu Aliyu that, he rescinded his earlier vow to name 419 members in the National Assembly because of advice from his lawyers, LEADERSHIP Sunday can authoritatively reveal that the former Police Officer had to soft pedal following several threats he received from unknown persons.

Last week, the Senate chambers of the National Assembly was turned into another theatre of allegation, this time, it was a weighty allegation which casts aspersions on the integrity of the members of the highest legislative body in the land.

The absurdities on the existence of fraudsters in the National Assembly could not have gotten any serious prominence if it came from anybody other than a former Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police in charge of investigations turned politician, Senator Nuhu Aliyu.

The tall framed Aliyu took his turn to contribute to the debate, which was on the public perception of President Yar'Adua's fight against corruption, but skidded off the lane of the debate instead, he amplified what he said two years ago, but this times he broadened his allegation , insisting that "there are 419ners in the National Assembly"

Two years ago, Senator Nuhu Aliyu had raised alarm over the existence of fraudsters in the Senate. Angered by the comment of the former DIG, the Senate and the House of Representatives insisted that Senator Aliyu name the fraudsters in the National Assembly.

Even though he vowed to name the raudsters in the National Assembly on that faithful day, the mood of the Senate suggested that he would still face the ethics and privileges committee.

Twenty four hours after, Senator Nuhu Aliyu, chairman senate committee on Security and Intelligence introduced another dimension to his earlier position; this time he vowed that he would only reveal the names of the fraudsters in the National Assembly to either the Senate President, David Mark or the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Oladimeji Bankole.

However, 48 hours after, Senator Nuhu Aliyu recanted himself on the floor of the Senate, he tendered an unreserved apology to both the Senate and the House of Representatives, stressing that "To err is human but to forgive is divine".

The Senators humbled Aliyu and told him in plain terms that his apology, although taken, could not stop him from facing the ethics and privileges committee.

In the three paragraph letter read by the senator himself, he claimed that his decision to withdraw his earlier stand to name the fraudsters in the National Assembly was predicated on the advice of his lawyer to withdrew his statement and the fact that he was losing some of his colleagues.

Senator Aliyu however claimed that, there was no threat to his life and that of his family, but for the advice of his lawyer and fear of losing his friends, he would no longer name the fraudsters in the National Assembly.

LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered from reliable sources close to the senator, shortly before he stood on the floor of the Senate threatening to name names, some members of the Upper Legislature chamber had warned him to avoid engaging in a fight he could not finish. "Just few hours after the senator came out from the chambers, calls and text messages of threats to his life and that of his family came from unknown persons, who dared him to mention names of fraudstars and see what will happen to him.

"In fact, there were some messages that outrightly told him not to embark on a voyage that he would never return. Whatever that means, we don't know" a politiciann who claimed to be Aliyu's associate but did not want his name in print confided in LEADERSHIP Sunday yesterday.

From all indications, it seems, trouble is not over yet for him, as the House of Representatives has insisted that Senator Nuhu Aliyu must appear before its committee on Ethics and Privileges to disclose the identities of the alleged 419 lawmakers.

Chairman House Committee on Media and Publicity, Hon. Eziuche Ubani, who restated the position of the House yesterday said the resolution of the House on the matter that it will not accept the apology tendered by the senator to the Senate.

"As far as we are concerned, we don't accept any apology. We are asking him to do his country this favour , let him come forward and clear himself ". Ubani assured that in spite of the apology, the House committee on ethics and privileges was going ahead to invite Senator Aliyu to defend his allegations by naming the legislators that are fraudulent.

"In the House , our motion still stands and the ethics and privileges committee is going to invite him and he will name the 419ners amongst us. What is worrisome is the man's status as a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of investigations.

"We believe he still has his links in the Police Force besides, he is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Security and Intelligence". According to Ubani, the House insistence on compelling Senator Aliyu to come forward with the list of the National Assembly members who are 419ners was to retain the integrity of the National Assembly. He said the House will not bow to any form of pressure until the senator tows the path of honour.

Senator Aliyu had also vowed that the House of Representatives has no powers to invite him, except on the instruction of the Senate president.

LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered that Senator Nuhu Aliyu succumbed to both local and international pressures, including threats by some persons whose records are not clean.

It was gathered that there was a phone call made across to the senator, threatening to deal with his family, should he mention any name of any fraudster in the National Assembly. It was also gathered that there was pressure from the senator's country home to drop his threat, in order not to rock the boat.

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