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National Assembly Can’t Stop Dariye’s Salaries, Allowances —Saraki

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Senate President, Bukola Saraki, does not have the power to unilaterally stop payment of salaries and allowances to convicted Plateau Central senator, Joshua Dariye, Saraki’s spokesperson has said.

Reacting to an inquiry Sunday morning, 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, Saraki cannot go ahead to declare the seat vacant, he said.

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 Dariye his monthly allowances while he serves out a prison sentence.

The suit also seeks the court compel Saraki to declare the seat of Dariye vacant and requests an order compelling 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, Olaniyonu noted Sunday morning.

“The SP (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.”

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 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.

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