By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has said that recent happenings in the upper legislative arm, the Senate has traumatized Nigerians, hence calling for its total occupation championed by civil society groups.
The call was made in a statement signed by MURIC’s Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
“MURIC calls on civil society to do the needful. We must occupy Senate until the Senators shut down or until they confirm all confirmables. For the sake of our poor families, in the interest of the oppressed and marginalized jamaheer (masses), in order to save democracy from the jugular-hold of a ruthless Senate oligarchy, Nigerians from all walks of life must join civil society groups in non-violent rallies to shut down Senate.
“We must make Senate feel the people’s impact not only in Abuja but also in all the 35 state assemblies. Activists who cannot reach Abuja are urged to stage peaceful rallies in their state assemblies. Nigerians must send a strong message to Senate that they will not tolerate parliamentary terrorism,” it stated.
The group argued that the Senate will not tolerate free speech, but is out to strangulate the democratic process.
“Senate is gunning for parliamentary totalitarian dictatorship. It must be stopped before it is too late.
It explained that the Nigerian polity has witnessed several earth-shaking incidents in the past few weeks due to apparent deadlock in the relationship between the executive and the Nigerian Senate.
“Nigerians are traumatized by this ugly development. The Nigerian Senate has turned itself into a hydra-headed monster with its jaws wide open to swallow up the Nigerian social order. Though it has been denied, the threat allegedly made by Senate to shut down government appears real. Senate’s body language indicates it is all out for war with the executive. It is parliamentary rascality at its worst. We can no longer trust the eighth Senate. It is capable of doing anything. The Nigerian people must strike while the iron is hot. We must shut down Senate before it shuts down government.
“A look at just a few of the excesses of Senate is enough to justify the above position. Firstly, the head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, was rejected twice by Senate. Nigerians were quick to conclude that the senators were unwilling to stomach a man who would not make concessions to lawmakers particularly since many of them have pending cases of fraud.
“In the second instance, Senate suddenly bared its fangs and summoned Hammed Ali. The red chamber insisted that the customs chief must appear in customs uniform. It was later revealed that a bullet proof SUV car illegally brought into the country was at the root of the matter.
“Thirdly, Professor Itse Sagay, a respected constitutional lawyer was summoned by Senate for criticizing its actions. This is indubitable evidence of Senate’s determination to silence critics. Very soon they will start serving summons on journalists and poor market women,” it pointed out.
The group noted that the Nigerian Senate has also been ruthless in dealing with dissenting voice within the hallowed chamber, citing an example of Senator Ali Ndume who was suspended for six months merely for voicing opposition to Senate’s recklessness.
“This is another red signal. A few powerful senators are perpetrating oligarchic dictatorship in the red chamber. Nigerians must rise before this powerful but self-serving oligarchy descends on other patriotic and progressive senators in their midst.
“A fourth example has occurred in Senate’s refusal to screen people nominated as commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Yet screening of nominees is the statutory responsibility of lawmakers. Does Senate want carpenters and taxi drivers to come forward to perform this legislative duty? How then do we explain a situation whereby senators refuse to perform their duties? We hope we are communicating with Nigerians and we hope the masses can read between the lines. Senate appears to be telling the executive arm: “Play ball or …” There is no other word to use for this than ‘armtwisting’,” it said.
MURIC charged Nigerians to compare Senate’s ruthlessness in dealing with both external (Professor Itse Sagay) and internal critics (Senator Ali Ndume) to the red-carpet treatment it gave the senate president on the imported car scandal and the kid’s-glove treatment it gave Senator Dino Melaye on Dinogate.
“First is happenstance, second is a coincidence, the third time is enemy action. The Nigerian Senate has declared war on the Nigerian people. Nigerians must wake up from their deep slumber before it is too late.
“It is an open secret that corruption is the major obstacle standing between the good people of Nigeria and higher standard of living. If we must know, corruption robs us of macadam roads, good public health scheme, qualitative and affordable education, steady power supply, reliable public transport system, security of lives and properties, clean drinkable water and, above all, good governance.
“Corruption is therefore Nigeria’s foe numero uno. It must be brought to its knees and anybody, no matter how highly placed, who stands in the path of Nigerians, any institution that weakens our resolve to eliminate corruption, has declared war on the Nigerian people,” it warned.
It added that it is sad that this is exactly what the eighth Senate has done by being involved in actions incompatible with its parliamentary responsiblility.
“Senate has thrown its lot with corruption and its Satanic agents by taking deliberate steps capable of debilitating the executive and the Nigerian people in their war against corruption.
“Any institution that does this is an enemy of Nigeria. We must therefore rise against this Senate. Nigerians must prove to Senate that senators were elected by them. Who owns the land and where does the real power reside? Nigerians must prove that power belongs to the people,” it charged.
The group however, advised organizers of rallies to inform Senate, state assemblies and security agents of their peaceful intention.
“We urge security agents to provide protection for the nationwide exercise whenever and wherever it takes place in order to prevent hoodlums from hijacking the rallies. Organizers are further advised to ensure that they pick rendezvous which are very close to their targets in other to keep trouble-makers at bay. We do not want the same ordinary Nigerians whose interests we are protecting to suffer unnecessarily.
“As a final note, MURIC is on the same page with Muhammed Fawehinmi (son of late Chief Gani Fawehinmi) who has asked President Muhammadu Buhari and the Chief Justice of Nigeria the option to invoke their constitutional powers by shutting down this rancorous Senate. The Nigerian people will hail such an action. Buhari was voted into power on the strength of his commitment to the war against corruption. Like Rousseau’s General Will, if this Senate will not allow the General Will of Nigerians, viz, to fight corruption, something must give way. We make bold to say it is Senate which must go.”