The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has reacted to reports that $10 million was allegedly offered to members of the National Assembly to pass the 3% host community development fund.
Lawan, while denying the allegation, described the report as fake news and misinformation against the 2 chambers of the National Assembly and the government.
The Senate President disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Monday.
According to NAN, Lawan frowned at the way and manner that some citizens had been spreading fake news and misinformation against the NASS and the government.
What the Senate President is saying
Lawn said, “People say anything or everything about the President, about the administration, about members of National Assembly, they call us names and this is part of the intangible dividends of democracy.
“But we are determined to ensure that the space is wide open for everybody to say whatever he wants to say.
“But I will advise that don’t say things that are bad because people are in the habit of…and recently somebody said 10 million dollars was given to the Speaker and the Senate President to give to members of the National Assembly to pass 3% host community development fund.
“That is funny, but also very serious. I really want to take this opportunity to take exceptions to those kinds of unwarranted, false and fake information being fed to the Nigerian public and the danger people will face with this is you cause unnecessary damage to the reputation of people.’’
Lawan pointed how he sued someone (name withheld) who allegedly spread similar falsehood against him.
He said, “I had an occasion to take someone to court because of this kind of thing about three months ago.
“But Nigerians are better judges than anywhere else. So, the freedom of expression is there, probably more than anywhere in the world, but I want to caution that Nigerians should always think positive about their leaders, administration and governments.
“And if they have issues they feel very strongly about, let them speak the truth and we are prepared to tell corrections, and that we feel should be able to make us do better.’’
Lawan disclosed that his meeting with the president also touched on 2022 budget proposal, activities of the Buni-led Caretaker Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as well as the need to complete some legacy projects by the Buhari administration.
What you should know
It can be recalled that a few days ago, there were unsubstantiated media reports of Nigerian lawmakers bracing for a showdown with their principal officers after uncovering details of how they were allegedly grossly shortchanged in the distribution of a multimillion-dollar bribe for the passage of the new petroleum industry law.
It was alleged that at least $10 million was paid in cash to members of the National Assembly to help expedite passage of the bill despite widespread opposition to a clause that granted only 3% of upstream oil companies’ operating income to host communities.
The 2 chambers of the National Assembly earlier in July, passed the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), after about 13 years of legislative fireworks, while President Muhammadu Buhari signed the bill into law in August following his return from medical vacation in the UK.