18 November 2012

Nigeria: Northern Legislators Deny Bribery Charge

As the controversy generated by Professor AngoAbdullahi's claim that northern legislators were bribed by former president Obasanjo to pass the controversial onshore/offshore dichotomy law rages on, some northern legislators who were in the 4th session have come out to deny the allegations.

In his reaction, Usman Adamu Gaya who is representing Gaya/Albasu/Ajingi federal constituency of Kano State told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY on phone : "I never supported the onshore/offshore dichotomy bill. I also did not collect any bribe from anybody. If I did not collect N50m to support third term, is it chicken change that I would collect? I don't know any legislator from the north that collected bribe to support that bill."

Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari, under whose tenure the bill was passed into law did not respond to LEADERSHIP SUNDAY enquiries on the issue yesterday.

Both calls and text messages sent to his mobile phone were not replied as press time.

Another lawmaker who was in the House of Reps when the bill was passed, Hon. Safiyanu Ubale from Jigawa State, said: "I never believed or supported the onshore/offshore dichotomy because we noticed there were some grey areas we didn't understand. So how could I have collected bribe on what I did not support? I don't think any northern legislator supported that bill. We were all against it until it was passed."

Prof. Abdullahi, who is also the spokesperson of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), had, in an interview with the Hausa Service of Voice of America (VOA) which was monitored by LEADERSHIP, decried the role played by northern legislators and some governors regarding the law onshore/offshore dichotomy, claiming that some of them compromised their positions during the passage of the law.

The former vice chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, who called for a review of the law, also accused some governors of receiving bribes to enable the law sail through.

I don't know of any country in the world that has no dichotomy between onshore and offshore. It is sickening, not because I am a northerner but because I'm a Nigerian.

There was a conference going on in New York over international water dichotomy and yet our senators and members of the House closed their eye and passed what I consider to be the most corrupt bill ever. So it is high time we threw it overboard in the interest of democracy.

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