N330m vehicles: Senate under fire for buying exotic cars

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The Senate came under harsh criticisms by
eminent Nigerians on Saturday for defying
Nigerians, including President Muhammadu
Buhari on the purchase of exotic vehicles.
Eminent Nigerians including the Chairman of
the Presidential Advisory Committee Against
Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), Senator
Femi Okurounmu and Dr. Junaid Mohammed,
condemned the Senate for purchasing the
vehicles.
The contractor in charge of delivering the
vehicles, Lanre Shittu Motors, on Saturday
confirmed to SUNDAY PUNCH that it had
delivered “a lot of vehicles to the Senate.
SUNDAY PUNCH gathered that the Senate had
taken delivery of the exotic vehicles and that
the deliveries were done from Lagos and Abuja.
The Group Executive Director, Lanre Shittu
Motors, Mr. Taiwo Shittu, in an interview with
one of our correspondents, stated that a lot of
deliveries had been made to the Senate.
We have delivered a lot of vehicles to Senate —
Lanre Shittu Motors
When asked to confirm if the Senate had taken
delivery of the vehicles from his company,
Shittu replied, “Yes, they’ve taken a lot of
deliveries but the deliveries are handled from
the head office. I’m in charge of commercials
like trucks, equipment and buses for the
company, but not deliveries that have to do
with the cars.
“They are not taking delivery of commercial
vehicles but they are taking passenger vehicles,
although Toyota Hilux can be seen as a
commercial vehicle. I can confirm to you that
the Senate has taken delivery of some vehicles
but I can’t give you the accurate number
presently.”
Many Nigerians, including Buhari and former
President Olusegun Obasanjo had a few months
ago urged the National Assembly to shelve the
plan to buy N330m exotic vehicles.
While advising the Senate, Buhari in his first
media chat had said, “I turned down a N400
million bill for cars for the presidency, because
the vehicles I am using are good enough for the
next 10 years.”
Anger over purchase
In his reaction, prominent Yoruba leader,
Okurounmu, on Saturday described the
purchase of the vehicles as disgraceful.
Okurounmu, who represented Ogun-Central
senatorial district between 1999 and 2003, said
the purchase of vehicles at a time when over
20 states could not pay salaries was callous.
He said, “If this is true, the action of the Senate
is completely unpatriotic, callous and shows
that they don’t care about the welfare of the
Nigerians that they are supposed to be
representing and they are only there to look
after their own interests. They are selfish.
Also speaking, Sagay described the senators as
a group of “shameless people” who are unfit to
occupy public office.
Sagay said their profligate lifestyle was capable
of causing poor Nigerians to revolt against the
government.
He said, “It shows that we are dealing with a
group of people that are totally incorrigible in
their love for material things at the expense of
Nigerians. They have no limit and have no
sense of shame or restraint. They will go all out
and continue to live in luxury and obscenity
until they can ground Nigeria
“These people are unfit to hold public office.
They are a disgrace to this country and
somehow, if it was possible, I would want them
to be shamed out of the National Assembly.
They are unfit for that position and a disgrace
to any civilised community.”
Lending his voice to the controversial
acquisition of vehicles, a former Governor of
Kaduna State, Balarabe Musa, wondered where
the Senate got the funds to purchase the
vehicles since the 2016 budget had not yet
been passed.
Describing the incident as ‘mindlessness’, the
former governor said the matter must be
investigated by the relevant authorities.
He said, “Who authorised the purchase of the
vehicles? The budget has not yet been
approved so where did they get the money to
buy the vehicles? Are they using the law which
authorises the President to spend the
equivalent of what was spent last year to buy
the vehicles?
“Besides the mindlessness of such an act in the
face of the economic crisis, why should
lawmakers use their position to enrich
themselves? Has the National Assembly allowed
itself to be involved in illegality?”
Saraki’s convoy changed only one vehicle – Aide
But the Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, to
the Senate President, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said
in a statement on Saturday that only one new
vehicle had been changed in the convoy of his
principal, Bukola Saraki.
Olaniyonu, explained that the new vehicle, a
Mercedes Benz, was meant to replace the old
spare car in the convoy that he inherited and
had been using since he assumed office in June
2015.
He said, “It is an obvious fact that the official
and spare cars that the Senate President
inherited and has been using are old and have
been malfunctioning.
“There are instances like the day Saraki visited
Keffi for the marriage of the daughter of
Senator Abdullahi Adamu and another day at
the Presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe
International Airport that the spare vehicle
broke down.
“In both instances, the spare vehicle did not
return home with the convoy. The same vehicle
had malfunctioned at the Presidential Villa and
National Mosque on different occasions.
“It is for this reason that the Senate President
approved that instead of providing two vehicles
for him as he is entitled, only one should be
bought to replace the official vehicle while the
old official car should be converted to spare
car.
“Also, if the National Assembly Management
chose to provide operational vehicles for
security agencies, should that be presented as
if they are personal or official vehicles meant
for the use of Dr. Saraki?
“These are vehicles that cannot be used for
other purposes and by other people. The
Senate President also has no control over the
security vehicles.”
Repeated calls made to the Senate
spokesperson, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, were not
responded to and a comprehensive text
message sent to him had not been responded
to as of the time of sending this report.
Also, the Chairman, Senate Committee on
House Service, Ibrahim Gobir, and the Senate
Leader, Ali Ndume, could not be reached on
phone as their lines were switched off.
However, a member of the Senate Committee
on House Services, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, said
he was not aware of the procurement and
distribution of the exotic cars.
He said, “As a member of the Senate
Committee on House Services which is in
charge of the process of taking delivery and
distribution of such vehicles, I can confirm that
there is nothing like that.”

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