Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume in this interview with LEADERSHIP FRIDAY suggests that for the government to go full circle in its prosecution of suspects in the alleged arms procurement scandal, it must arrest and prosecute ex-President Goodluck Jonathan. He also speaks to TORDUE SALEM on the N1.08 trn fine slammed on MTN by the NCC and the visit of the South African President, Jacob Zuma among other things.
What is your take on the visit of the south African president, Jacob Zuma?
The visit of the South African President, even though late, is better than never because the relationship between South Africa and Nigeria, being the largest economies in Africa. I listened to Zuma and I was impressed to hear him recalling most of the support and sacrifice Nigerian government and the Nigerian people made to the realization of what is now known as free South Africa.
It is unfortunate that events like xenophobia that happened in south Africa and affected mostly Nigerians is unfortunate.
But people that are involved in xenophobia are people that were not born when the struggle was going on, it is good the South African President took his time to take us down the lane. I hope that young South Africans listened to the speech, I wish it was done before South African Youths. Even some of our youths exposed to Xenophobia don’t even know the sacrifis]ce Nigeria made.
Ubfortunate thisn for Nigeria is that South Africa is a country that we are helping, but they have developed to a stage that Nigeria will seek support from them. Nigeria is supposed to have surpassed the South Africa level of development but now South Africa has developed more than Nigeria to the extent that we would seek help from them.
But it is better to beg your brother that to beg another: South Africa is part of us so there is no shame in asking them for assistance: we have a mutual respect.
South Africa is being driven by Nigeria in view of their many businesses here and the nation’s population.
On the issue of the fine, this is my personal opinion: MTN should pay, they have been ripping off Nigeria and they really contributed to thriving of insurgency in Nigeria.
President Buhari had been trying to avoid that is why he kept quiet but we have been crying: how come bombs are being detonated by phones with MTN sim and nobody can trace that. Hw come Boko Haram had been communicating and nobody is intercepting their communication and majority of this can be traced to the lackluster of MTN in implementing the sim registration directive.
As the President said, we lost a lot of lives as a resoult of their business and social irresponsibility and non compliance to laws.
Most of these kidnappings and collection of ransom are traced to people using MTN sim cards.
So it is a business thing, NCC is doing its constitutional right: there is nothing wrong with government intervening.
MTN knows that it was wrong if not they would not have started paying.
On the demining of the north-east
We hope that the South African government would really be part of de-mining the areas that have been mined by the insurgency because that is the next stage of the post insurgency era.
Most of the areas have been mined by Boko Haram and South Africa has the Experience of demining and has the industrial capacity of producing mine resistant armories.
We hope that they would help in providing thoe equipment that are required to demine those areas in Nigeria.
On the mutual criminal assistance bill:
This is a bill that is timely, it is a bill that we are supporting in order to advance a fight against corruption by the government.
You cannot fight against corruption if there is no mutual criminal assistance between you and other countries: the current laws in Nigeria are not in compliance with international standards. When you start going aftr=er criminals, if you don’t have the legal backing to extradite and all that then it becomes a big roblem.
You can see what is happening from the recoveries of Abacha: it has taken over 20 years and there is lack of accountability because this law is not in place: so this law is coming timely. Some Nigerians have gone to other countries with their stolen wealth, without such laws in place, bringing them back to face justice would be almost impossible.
I really want to commend the PDP senators for there support, tthere was no dissenting voice during the debates, it shows that this senate is in support of anti corruption,
What’s your take on the 2.1bn dasuki gate and the involvement of Jonathan. he has been indicted by metuh. Don’t you think he has questions to answer?
I do not want to dabble into that being one of the victims of the insurgency: my house was taken over by insurgents and my town was declared a caliphate of the insurgents:: my Emirr was killed while these people were smiling to the banks with the money that was meant to buy arms and ammunition.
It was for lack of ammunition that the Nigerian Armed Forces had to run away.
As far as I am concerned, these people are living on blood money, the blood of so money innocent citizens of this country particularly from the North East.
No justice is too much for them, nobody is supposed to be spared.
Because the case is judicial and I am not a lawyer to determine who should be brought to book, what I am saying is that justice should be served.
Over 10,000 peple have lost their lives, at one time you could see my people were slaughtered like chickens and the reason why this happened was because our army was not equipped and not well kitted.
And somebody made away with the money meant for the procurement of arms and ammunition. I am not defending President Jonathan but he approved that this money be used for procurement of arms: so if the law says he should be part of those that should part of the accountability or those that should face justice, I think nobody should be spared.
If Olisah Metuh is using that as an excuse or a way to circumvent the law. I really don’t want to make comment on that but anybody that is involved in that blood money should be held responsible. If the President approved that money in the name of buying arms while giving a directive that it should be shared among his cronies, then he should face the law.
If anybody is supposed to buy arms and you gave them money to buy arms, as the president, after some time you should ask `where are the arms anyway’. Let me add and clearly that is my position, if because of this or any other criminality Jonathan should face the law, he should, I did, I am facing the law.
Nobody is supposed to be above the law, if Jonathan is a culprit he should face the law: if there is evidence that the former president should face the law then he should.
After all he is presumed innocent until proven guilty
What is your take on the kogi assembly crisis and the decision of reps to take over?
It is a constitutional matter, the Constitution says in section 11(4) that if there is crisis in any state house of assembly, the national assembly, particularly the House of Representatives takes over till that matter is resolved.
What the House of Representatives had done is constitutional.
What is your take on rivers crisis an killings?
There is Chief Security Officer there that should be held responsible for all these killings and that is the Governor, he is the Chief Security Officer of the state.
Any breakdown of law and order there the governor is supposed to be held responsible. The people of Rivers should hold him responsible. As the Senate we have condemned what is happening severally, not just in Rivers but anything that is happening that has to do with loss of lives and criminality we stand to comdemn it.
But we so not take responsibility for that when there is someone constitutionally responsible for it: constitutionally, the governor of a state is the Chief Security Officer of that particular state.
Any breakdown of law and order in that state is supposed to be the responsibility of the state governor; he is the Chairman of the Security Council of the state. The Federal Government provides the Army, the Police; when the governor feels that theh breakdown of law is out of his hands that is when he normally calls for external support from the Federal Government.
The state should be more serious and should value lives.
Do you know that I am still in court on a more serious issue? The President of the Senate is in court for assets declaration but I am in court for a more serious issue that I am alleged to be the sponsor of Boko Haram. I have been in court for four years so why is not an issue, I have not complained, it is not a bid deal, I am still the Leader of the Senate and my role is as important as that as the President of the Senate but it is not a big deal Why are you making his own case a big deal? I think the Nigerian press trivializes things, dramatises issues, concentrates on events and personalities instead of ideas: does that help us?
We understand you have summoned the Director of DSS of the Ekiti Incidence:
The DSS will come before the committee, that is why we said it would be investigated; you will hear when the investigation comes out and you will be surprised.
This National Assembly will not support gangstarism or abuse of law or abuse of power.
I know that this president is compliant to the tenets of democracy and rule of law, he is civilized and would never do anything to abuse power.
So I am surprised by the allegations that came up during the motion and we said that as a government of change we must investigate and that is it.