The Nigeria Labour Congress has called on senators who benefited from a recent purchase of 108 brand new Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles by the Senate to immediately return same or face the wrath of the Nigerian people.
The union described the purchase, coming at a time the country is enduring excruciating financial crisis, as a crime against the people.
Reports said senators have started taking delivery of the new Sports Utility Vehicles, SUVs, since last week at the rate of N35.1 million per unit.
In a statement by the NLC president, Ayuba Wabba, on Monday, Labour said it was “morally despicable and shameful” that the lawmakers embarked on such acquisition when they were supposed to occupy themselves with issues that would benefit the people.
“We consider appalling, insensitive and greedy the decision of the Senate to acquire 108 Toyota Land Cruiser jeeps (one for each member less the Senate President) after collecting car “loans” in August last year for the same purpose,” Mr. Wabba said.
“It is equally morally despicable and shameful that they are doing this after publicly admitting that the standing committees of the Senate are unable to perform their statutory functions due to paucity of funds.”
Mr. Wabba said the prices of the vehicles were grossly inflated and demanded that the lawmakers explain where they sourced the funds since the 2016 Appropriation Bill had not been signed into law.
“We at the Nigeria Labour Congress equally consider it a willful and grievous criminal act the inflation of the unit cost of each of the cars by over a 100 percent, as each car supposedly cost N35.1 million instead of N17 million.
“Aside from this, Nigerians are keen to know from where they got money for the purchase of these cars without appropriation.”
Mr. Wabba also rubbished the explanation put forward by the Senate to justify the purchase.
“The defence offered by the Senate spokesperson, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, is laughable and childish. According to him, Special Advisers use jeeps, why not Senators or do Nigerians expect them to trek to work? And in any case, cars are capital projects!
“Couldn’t this have been put to better uses such as the constituency projects of these same Senators? At a time with severe economic challenges and deepening poverty in the land, can the Senate afford this level of reckless luxury and arrogance?
“The answer is “no”.
“Their multiple acts of criminality, ranging from acquiring these cars after previously taking loans for the same purpose; spending money without appropriation and over inflating costs constitute not just corruption but a crime against the Nigerian people whom they claim to represent,” Mr. Wabba said.
The Labour leaders, therefore, called on the senators to return the vehicles or face public backlash, adding that no one is above the law.
“Accordingly, we demand they return those cars to whoever supplied them or the appropriate agencies prosecute them for corruption.
“In the event none of this happens, they should be prepared to keep a date with Nigerian workers and their civil society allies including market women and students.
“No one is above the law,” the Labour leader said.
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