With roasted meat (Suya), N1,000 or a plate of food, unaccredited persons are gaining entry into the National Assembly Complex daily, investigation by Daily Trust on Sunday, revealed.
Our investigation revealed that while petty traders use their wares including suya, plate of food, Moimoi (steamed bean pudding) to bribe their ways into the complex, visitors who throng there to solicit money from the lawmakers pay N2,000 on sitting days and N1,000 on non-sitting days.
The bribes, according to a cross section of petty traders, visitors and lawmakers, are paid to the security men attached to the various entry points of the complex.
Daily Trust on Sunday reports that with the payment of the bribes to those who are engaged to man the entry points, including sergeant-at-arms, police and officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the unaccredited persons are free to do whatever they want inside the country’s lawmaking powerhouse.
It was also gathered that some of those who gain access to the premises of Assembly are former staff who either served as aides to ex-lawmakers or support staff.
Our reporters also learnt that some female visitors, who constantly throng the National Assembly are girlfriends to some of the security personnel.
“What is even disturbing is the fact that most of those who come in through this method (as girlfriends) don’t have anything doing in the National Assembly,” a source said.
A food vendor told Daily Trust on Sunday that aside bribing his way into the complex with his ware, he occasionally gives recharge cards to some of the security men.
“Twice in a month, I give Moi moi to those people manning the entrance. Last week, I shared N2,000 worth of Moi moi to them. That has been the way. I’m happy doing it. Aside this, at intervals I give recharge cards to some of them,” the trader said.
A former legislative aide said he frequents the National Assembly because he is yet to secure another job.
“I came to the National Assembly during Dimeji Bankole’s era as Speaker. I was a legislative aide until my boss was defeated at the poll. Since then, I have not been doing anything. So, I come here to get money from the lawmakers.
“Before things turned bad, I used to make between N5,000 and N10,000 from the lawmakers but now there’s no free money again. It was one of the lawmakers that advised me to go into petty trading,” he told our reporters on Thursday in the office of a South-west senator.
With his wares by his side, the 40-year-old former legislative aide said the failure of the government to provide employment to the citizenry worsened the situation.
Lamenting the situation, a ranking senator said an executive session was held to address the situation recently.
“Our safety is no longer guaranteed because with N2,000 on sitting days- Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, people are allowed into the premises. On non-sitting days, Mondays and Fridays, they pay N1,000. This is why you see hundreds of people on the premises, moving from one office to the other to solicit money.
“We are tired of this because they don’t allow us to work. All manner of people are allowed in. We are afraid Boko Haram members can be allowed in under this circumstance. They will just embarrass the nation, “he said.
He said at the executive session, the Senate Services Committee was directed to factor into this year’s budget of the National Assembly the construction of security devices at all entry points that will allow only people with Identity Cards (ID) into the complex.
“It was generally agreed upon that the devices be mounted to check the excesses of the security men. Even if you give bribe, you cannot gain entry if the device is mounted,” the senator who has been at the National Assembly for over a decade said.
In March, Senator Samuel Anyanwu (PDP, Imo) raised a point of order on the floor of the Senate, raising alarm on how “all manner of people” have access to the National Assembly, saying it could lead to breakdown of security one day.
“Mr President, it is worrisome that these days, when we close from office sometimes around 6.pm, you’ll see all manner of people littering around. You wonder how they gain access.
“The situation is really disturbing. I had to bring this matter here to avoid any security breach in the National Assembly. I think something has to be done,” he said.
A top security official blamed the situation on poor allowances being paid to security men attached to the complex by the National Assembly management.
“The situation is so bad that even with a stick of suya, you will be allowed in. We have raised the issue on many occasions and God forbid, if anything funny happens, they will blame us,” he said.
The senior security officer who doesn’t want to be named said officials of the Sergeant-at-arms lack the expertise to properly man the complex.
“Junior officers are given N6,000 monthly and senior officers N10,000 as allowances by the management of the National Assembly. With this, you cannot expect them not to look for other ways to make money. Two, majority of the Sergeant-at-arms are women, old and tired. The young ones want quick money, “he said.
When contacted, the Director of Information at the National Assembly, Mr. Ishaku A. Dibal, referred our correspondent to Deputy Clerk of the National Assembly.
But a source close to the National Assembly management said in a matter of weeks action will begin to manifest in this regard.
The source said:” It is expected that a place like the National Assembly is always a beehive of political, social and economic activities with no fewer than, 3,000 visitors thronging the premises to see their representatives.
“However, it is heartwarming that management in its last retreat came up with measures that will address the influx of visitors into the the National Assembly. In a matter of weeks action will begin to manifest in this regards.
“Moreso, the presiding officers are in agreement on the laudable efforts towards safety of all in the complex. To management, it is work in progress. All issues or challenges are being addressed. “
Author: Theophilus Abbah
I’m a journalist, writer, researcher and trainer. My life’s ship has docked in the island of journalism in the last two decades where I’ve snaked through all its compartments – from reporter to newspaper editor. I’ve studied volumes of other people’s writings on Forensic Linguistics and propounded what I’ve titled ‘the language of terrorism.’ I’m expecting an award of a PhD in English Language from the University of Abuja soon in order to console me for my daily sweats and sleepless nights.