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Senate’s armoured car defies economic sense

A controversial armoured vehicle bought by the Senate, but seized by the Nigeria Customs Service for evading correct duty payment, is yet another greasy mark on the National Assembly’s coat of many colours. Whether at the level of the lawmakers or the bureaucracy, our legislature has become a sickening joke in the eyes of discernible Nigerians.

Earlier media reports had linked the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to the Range Rover Sport Utility Vehicle purchase.  The value then was put at N298 million. But the Senate has just clarified that it is $298,000. The driver taking the vehicle from Lagos to Abuja was stopped by Customs officials who, upon investigation, found that, not only was the duty on it underpaid, it was cleared with fake documents. Besides, the end-user certificate that the office of the National Security Adviser mandatorily issues as authorisation to import such an item was not attached. The N74 million duty the Customs had claimed and the $298,000 value of the car the Senate has now come up with are whimsical elements that need to be reconciled. The car was imported in 2015, but it was this January that the issue came to light.

The Special Adviser on Media to the Senate President, Yusuph Olaniyonu, in a spirited defence, dismissed any link of his boss to the procurement as an outright falsehood. At the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions hearing on Monday, the importer, Tokunbo Akindele, widened the comical frontiers when he said the car was not for Saraki’s use. This is nonsensical. He is not in a position to know or say so. But granted he knew that it was not for Saraki, why didn’t he also tell Nigerians who the car was meant for?

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