November 24, 2020

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Why lawmakers shouldn’t be blamed for hoarded ‘palliatives’ — Senate

3 min read

The Senate has denied claims that lawmakers hoarded relief items meant for distribution to Nigerians in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senate spokesperson, Ajibola Basiru, said in a statement, that the claims “are either wicked lies or deliberate misinformation”.

This was in reaction to allegations made by the Director, Media and Publicity of the Muhammadu Buhari 2019 Presidential Campaign Committee, Kailani Muhammad.

He had accused state governors and lawmakers of hoarding COVID-19 products meant to be distributed to Nigerians.

Mr Muhammad had said if not for the #EndSARS protests, “Nigerians wouldn’t have known that foodstuff meant for distribution were safely in warehouses for reasons unknown to millions across the country,” the Nation newspaper reports.

The actions of governors and lawmakers, he said, “revealed how selfish elected leaders have become”.

PREMIUM TIMES reported extensively how Nigerians raided warehouses accommodating the relief items across the nation and other facilities, in the wake of the violent aftermath of the peaceful #EndSARS protests.

Not true

However, in the statement by his media aide, Remi Ibitola, the Senate spokesperson said lawmakers never received any ‘COVID-19 palliatives’ from President Muhammadu Buhari or the federal government, at all, “for onward distribution to their constituents”.

“While not speaking for the governors, I make bold to say that no federal lawmaker and indeed, no senator received any kobo from Mr President or any foodstuff or any material for that matter, talk less of hoarding them.

“Rather at the Senate, we donated half of members’ salaries for the purpose of cushioning the effect of COVID-19. We legislators equally played our part by purchasing and distributing palliatives to people at our different constituencies. So it is quite unfortunate for Kilani Mohammed or anyone to castigate us in the public and saying what is not true,” part of the statement read.

He also warned against deliberate falsehood “to paint lawmakers in bad light.”

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While Mr Basiru denied that his colleagues received federal assistance, his colleague, Teslim Folarin (Oyo), had indicated otherwise earlier after the riots.

Mr Folarin’s house was one of the locations looted by hoodlums during the protests.

Some of the looted from his home include over 350 motorcycles, 400 deep freezers, 350 generators, grinding machines, sewing machines, hairdressing and barbing salon materials, vulcanising machines.

Similar incidents occured in Lagos, Osun, Kwara, Adamawa, and Plateau states.

The lawmaker had said some of the items stolen from his house were bought with public funds by a government agency that handed them over to him for distribution.

“For the sake of clarification, I have just formally taken receipt of the empowerment materials from a federal agency coordinating constituency projects for federal lawmakers. Also, I used my personal money to procure additional materials. I took stock of the materials ahead of a mega empowerment programme scheduled to hold in November 2020,” he had said.

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