Senate summons Prof Itse Sagay over alleged derogatory remarks

The Senate has summoned the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN) for making derogatory remarks about the persons and the offices of the lawmakers of the upper legislative chamber.

The summons, which was aggreed on at the plenary on Wednesday,  was in reaction to statement credited to Sagay, wherein he reportedly described the Red Chamber as a place harbouring “people of questionable character.”

Prof. Sagay, who made the remarks in an interview on Tuesday, had said this in response to the refusal on Tuesday of the Senate to screen and confirm the 27 nominees sent to it by President Muhammadu Buhari as Commissioners in the Independent National Electoral Commission.

The senators said the action followed the refusal of President Buhari to sack Ibrahim Magu as the boss of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission after the Senate refused to confirm him.

On Wednesday, the Senate, after a Point of Order raised by the Deputy Leader, Bala ibn Na’allah, calling the attention of senators to the newspaper report, decided to summon Sagay.

Sagay had told the The Punch that the position of the Senate on the screening of the INEC Commissioners was childish and irresponsible.

He said in a telephone interview that the Senate was filled with people of questionable character, who put their personal interest ahead of that of the nation.

Sagay, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, stated that Buhari would not be cowed by the Senate’s action, which he described as an affront to the Presidency.

He said: “That action is childish and irresponsible. Do they think Buhari is a man that can easily be threatened? My God! How can people of such character occupy the highest legislative office in the country? Nigeria is finished.

“It is a great mistake and they will regret it.”
When asked what appropriate action Buhari could take, Sagay explained that the President could continue to appoint people in acting capacity where necessary.

He said the refusal to confirm the RECs was of no effect since officials of the INEC had been acting as RECs for over a year.

Sagay added: “Where the Senate is required to approve a person for a particular position and they refuse to do it, the person could continue to act depending on the nature of the appointment.

“However, if the nominee is coming from another sector, just like in the case of the RECs, it means they cannot act. However, people below that rank in INEC can continue to act as RECs all over the country as it has been done.

“What this action means is that the Senate is being occupied by the most unserious set of Nigerians in history. Nigeria is currently at its lowest level because we have people who have no sense of responsibility, who have no feeling and are there for just vanity and are ready to bring down the country in order to feel important, it is the worst case of abuse ever.

“Let them do what they want, they will regret it.”