Senate President Bukola Saraki on Monday appeared before the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions and denied importing the Sport Utility Vehicle, SUV, seized by the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, for non payment of customs duties.
At the hearing into allegations that he imported the vehicle, Saraki washed his hands off the matter, declaring “I am not an importer.”
Former Senate majority leader Ali Ndume had raised a motion during plenary last week, calling for the Senate President to be investigated so that the image of the legislative arm of government will not be dragged in the mud.
There were allegations that Saraki was exacting revenge on the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali, because of his SUV, which the customs allegedly confiscated.
But Saraki told the investigative hearing on Monday: “I did not import any vehicle. I did not ask anybody to import any vehicle on my behalf.”
“I am here in person because I believe that what you are doing will help strengthen this institution. The institution must continue to be strengthened to carry out its mandate, rather than strengthening individuals.
“We must find ways to guard the institution and ourselves against those who wish to tarnish the institution and individual’s reputation because of 5 minutes of fame – they try to bring anyone else down.”
Speaking on the controversy surrounding the invitation of the customs CG, Saraki explained that he has no personal issues with Ali.
“We raised the issue on the Customs policy based on the interest of Nigerians. But those who want to fight the Senate for raising the issue of retroactive duty,” he said.
Saraki said that the Senate as an institution must be protected “so that it is not ridiculed.”
“I am proud of the Senate as an institution and its Constitutional role to represent the interests of the Nigerian people.
“Further, I am proud to honour the Senate Rule Book that guides our conduct and activities, which is why today I am presenting myself to the committee today,” he said.