Godswill Akpabio, former governor of Akwa Ibom State and minority leader of the senate, says it is difficult for a former governor to be respected outside Nigeria “because everybody believes that all former governors are thieves”.
Akpabio was speaking on the floor of the senate on Tuesday, during the deliberation of the upper chamber on the raid on the home of seven judges by the Department of State Services, DSS.
He urged President Muhammadu Buhari not to destroy the principles of separation of power, saying: “We know there is separation of power; we must bear in mind the need for the survival of democracy and our perception in the international community.
“We must be careful of the kind of image we give to the judiciary; it is difficult for a former governor to be respected outside this country because everybody believes that all former governors are thieves.
“If we carry that toga, everybody will lose confidence in the judiciary. Even if there is corruption, it should be handled carefully so that it does not jeopardise internal security.”
Earlier, the senate had implored the president to call all security agencies to order and direct the full observance of the rule of law in the discharge of their duties.
The call came after deliberation of a motion by Joshua Lidani, senator representing Gombe south, condemning the DSS’ raid.
In the motion, Lidani prayed the senate to summon Lawal Daura, director-general of the DSS, for a briefing on the issue. But his call failed as the lawmakers voted against it after three voice vote sessions.
Still, Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu north), said the action of the security operatives was wrong and would go a long way in giving the nation a bad name in the international community.
He said that it was condemnable to invade the house of any Nigerian, let alone serving judges.
“This should not have happened even under an unguarded dictatorship, let alone a democracy. Enough is now more than enough,” he said.
Ibn Na’Allah, deputy majority leader, said Nigerians supported the change agenda because of the promise to fight corruption.
He said that the senate was committed to supporting the federal government to fight corruption, but stressed that it must be done within the ambits of the law.
According to Na’Allah, the NJC should have been left to do its job and the senate should be careful in condemning the DSS.
Bukola Saraki, president of the Senate, expressed the “total support” of the upper chamber to Buhari’s fight against corruption, especially in the judicial system.
“We must eradicate corruption in all spheres of our society and this is a matter that we must pursue,” he said.
“I think the national assembly has been playing its role to continue to support government in the fight against corruption.
“We must ensure that this fight against corruption is within the rule of law; any act of anti-corruption that goes against the rule of law does not help the corruption fight.
“That is why this action has been seen in this manner, and it is condemned by the senate; all agencies of government must ensure that they act within the rule of law.”