President of the Senate Ahmed Lawan has debunked reports suggesting that members of the National Assembly were bribed to the tune of $10 million to pass the three per cent allocation to host communities as stipulated in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).
Lawan told State House correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday that he took exception to the spread of falsehood propagated to mislead the public.
“That is funny but also very serious,” the Senate President said of the allegation. “I really want to take this opportunity to take exception to those kinds of unwarranted, unprovable, false and fake information being fed to the Nigerian public.”
His comment is the latest development in the controversy that has followed the National Assembly’s decision to shun calls for five per cent allocation to the host communities in favour of the three per cent allocation when they passed the Petroleum Industry Bill 2021.
President Buhari signed the bill into law on August 16, three days after returning from his trip to the United Kingdom, a move that further fueled debates over the choice of three percent allocation to the host communities.
Beyond the debates, reports emerged claiming the lawmakers’ decision in passing the bill was influenced by kickbacks, reports the Senate President says are part of a dangerous trend.
“The danger people will face with this is, you cause unnecessary damage to the reputation of people,” he said.
Such allegations, Senator Lawan said, amounted to slander.
“I had an occasion to take someone to court because of this kind of thing previously, about three months ago,” he added, signalling his willingness to take legal action when necessary.
While urging Nigerians to speak the truth at all times, he gave the assurance that the Senate was working in the best interest of the people.