Monday, 24 December 2018

Why We Cannot Stop Paying Dariye's Salaries Despite Being In Prison...Senate

 
The Senate does not have the power to stop the salaries of the Former Governor of Plateau State, Sen. Joshua Dariye, who was sentenced to 14 year imprisonment for fraud and misappropriation of funds by an Abuja High Court


Reacting to an inquiry on Sunday morning, Mr Saraki’s media aide, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said the Senate president does not possess such power except the Attorney-General of the Federation hands in a request.

Until this is done, Mr Saraki cannot go ahead to declare the seat vacant, he said.

Mr Olaniyonu was reacting to a lawsuit instituted by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) asking the Federal High Court in Lagos to stop the Senate president from paying Mr Dariye his monthly allowances while he serves out a prison sentence.

The suit also seeks the court compel Mr Saraki to declare the seat of Mr Dariye vacant and requests an order compelling Mr Dariye to return all salaries and allowances paid to him as a senator while in prison.

All these cannot be done without due process which includes the AGF, Mr Olaniyonu noted in an SMS in Sunday morning.

“The Senate President does not have such powers except a request is made to him by the AGF who prosecuted the case and get court judgement. The request will be accompanied by the court judgement.

“The SP can then refer the matter to the legal department for advice. This will also require the SP to inform INEC about this development with a consequent need to declare the seat of such a senator vacant and a by-election in the district.”

Mr Olaniyonu further noted that giving such power to his principal would raise eyebrows of opposition.

“If the SP has the right to unilaterally declare the seat of a senator vacant, then you are giving him the power that he should not have.

“You need to think of what APC will say if SP just declared the seat of its senator vacant.”

He questioned why the AGF has failed to hand in a request to stop payment of allowances to Mr Dariye, a move that will spur declaration of the seat vacant.

“Also, why would the AGF not inform the SP about the case? Is it because Dariye is his party man? Even when a member dies, the Senate goes to pay (a) condolence visit to the family as a way of ascertaining the fact of the demise of the senator,” he wrote.

Mr Dariye, a governor of Plateau State from 1999 to 2007, was prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and was sentenced to 14 years jail term by Justice Adebukola Banjoko of an FCT High Court in June.

Following an appeal, his conviction was reduced to 10 years in November by the court of appeal.

Senate President, Bukola Saraki
Despite the conviction, the senator and his aides still receive their entitlements, a payment SERAP says violates Nigerian law and international obligations.

Joined as Defendants in the suit are Mr Dariye and the National Assembly Service Commission. Details of the suit were made available  in a statement on Sunday.

In the suit number FHC/L/CS/2146/18 filed on Friday, SERAP argued: “Mr Saraki and the National Assembly Service Commission are trying to override Nigerian law and the judgment of our court by continuing to pay Mr Dariye’s allowances while he serves out a 10-year prison term and unable to sit and perform the functions of a senator. This action undermines the rule of law and is a great moral failure because it sends a message that corruption pays—it’s the opposite of Nigerian Constitutional principles and international obligations.”

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