The Nigerian House of Representatives has denied a report by the Daily Sun newspaper that some of its members had taken bribe to change position on the process to amend the Electoral Act.
Moving a point of order on Wednesday, Danburam Nuhu (Kano-APC) called the attention of his colleagues to the report alleging that some of the lawmakers collected $30,000 each.
The newspaper had reported on Sunday that members of the executive spearheading strategies for President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election in 2019 were moving to stop the National Assembly from overriding the president’s veto of the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill which main feature is reordering of the sequence of elections.
The newspaper further reported senators and House of Representatives members were collecting $50,000 and $30,000 respectively to sway them against the move to amend the Act.
According to the newspaper, ”pro-Executive senators and members of the House of Representatives” were to receive $50,000 and $30,000, respectively, while ”anti-executive lawmakers, who have cases with anti-corruption agencies, will be threatened with prosecution.”
The Kano lawmaker said these report breached the privileges of the lawmakers and was part of attempts to drag the image of the House of Representatives into the mud.
“Personally, I felt very concerned and worried — reading it — in the sense that my constituents are beginning to question my integrity,” Mr Nuhu said.
“In my entire life where I have been through hardship, I have tried as much as possible to remain a credible person and I will not allow somebody to come on the pages of newspaper and allege we have received bribe to change the sequence of elections.”
Tajudeen Yusuf, from Kogi, said the report was “filled with fallacies and lies.”
“We all know the truth, that there is no such transactions in this house. We all know that consistently, there is always an attempt to paint the parliament black and question the integrity of whatever that comes out of the parliament,” he said.
Similarly, Hassan Saleh from Benue, said the house must begin to “sensitise the public that we are not what we are perceived as.”
“If after investigations and we are not found wanting, I think it is high time for this institution to also begin to sue. Maybe that will also give us a better image,” he added.
While most of the lawmakers suggested that the matter be referred to the committee on ethics and privileges, some said the House should sue the media organisation that carried the report.
Femi Gbajabiamila, leader of the house, said “you cannot send this to the ethics committee because members of the committee have also been indicted by the allegations.
“Let me make it abundantly clear that bribery and corruption is a criminal offence and is punishable by imprisonment,” he said.
“This is a matter that is ripe for investigations, and we should sue for defamation. The only defence in this case is the truth. You don’t speculate on a matter that is injurious to someone’s character.”
After the debate, Speaker Yakubu Dogara referred the matter to the ethics committee “to advise the house on the best step to take; how we will go about it in court if they advise us to do so.”