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Oshiomhole, senators trade words over alleged looting of lawmakers’ offices

There was a rowdy session on the floor of the Senate Tuesday over allegation by Senator Adams Oshiomhole (APC, Edo North) that property in lawmakers’…

There was a rowdy session on the floor of the Senate Tuesday over allegation by Senator Adams Oshiomhole (APC, Edo North) that property in lawmakers’ offices were looted at the end of 9th National Assembly in June. 

This followed a point of order by Senator Solomon Adeola (APC, Ogun West), who faulted Oshiomhole’s claim.

In an interview on Channels Television on Sunday, the former Edo State governor had alleged that despite the presence of security men in the parliament, television sets, carpets and chairs were carted away in both senators and Reps members’ offices.

He said, “I was shocked by the level of vandalisation of property of the National Assembly. Televisions were carted away, carpets were carted away, senators’ chairs were carted away.

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“I had to use my money and someone also decided to deliver to me a printer, to give me a laptop to use in my office. I had to buy the carpet and pay the cost of fixing it. I had to pay some young people to clean the office to restore the new carpet. I had to pay to repaint my office. I will produce you the receipt.”

Oshiomhole’s statement came amid criticism that trailed the allocation of N70billion to the National Assembly to enhance the “working condition” of new members.

Daily Trust reports that towards the end of the 9th Senate, almost all items in offices of lawmakers were moved away by the occupants.

Some members of the 10th Senate grumbled that the offices allocated to them were barely empty and that they had to purchase some items with personal money to enable them work.

Speaking at Tuesday’s plenary, Senator Adeola denied that members of the 9th Senate looted their offices before leaving. “We are respectable people and we believe we should live above board,” he said.

Adeola said his privilege had been breached while Adamu Aliero (PDP, Kebbi Central) dismissed Oshiomhole’s statement as misleading and false.

They both asked Oshiomhole to apologise for accusing members of the 9th Senate of looting their offices.

The plenary session degenerated into a rowdy session following attempt by the Chief Whip of the Senate, Mohammed Ali Ndume, through a point of order, to call for an executive session to discuss the “sensitive” matter.

Senators opposed the call with a resounding nay when it was put to voice vote.

Ndume’s second motion that the matter be referred to the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions was also rejected by his colleagues.

At this point, Deputy Senate President Jibrin Barau interjected, saying the items were not looted but removed legally in line with the tradition of the National Assembly.

Barau said, “All items in senators offices depreciated to the tune of 25 per cent every year and at the end of four years, the book value becomes zero. So, every senator is given the opportunity to purchase the items.

“When you accept to buy them, the money will be deducted from your severance gratuity and remitted to the consolidated revenue fund of the federal government. So, those items were removed legally and that is the tradition.”

He said Oshiomhole made the statement out of ignorance because he is new in the Senate.

Barau disclosed that the management of the National Assembly was preparing to supply new items to offices of lawmakers.

Senate President Godswill Akpabio called Oshiomhole to approach chair. After a brief talk, Akpabio asked him to defend himself.

Oshiomhole said he defended the collective integrity of the Senate during his television interview not indicting members of the 9th Senate of looting their offices.

He said, “At no time did I said senators looted their offices. I only said offices were vandalised and that many senators had to use their personal money to purchase basic items for their offices.

“I was defending the erroneous impression out there that we appropriated N70 billion to ourselves.

“But for those who feel that my comment , which was meant to protect our collective image was offensive, of course, I apologize. I cannot leave the comfort of my house to go and abuse the house of which I’m a member.”

 

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