Popular columnist, Olusegun Adeniyi, said on Friday that the senate showed a lack of seriousness when it summoned the editors of Thisday newspapers over a report about Ahmed Lawan, the senate majority leader.
Adeniyi, who is the chairman of Thisday editorial board, said this when he made a presentation on “Image Perception of the Legislature: Causes and Possible Solutions” during a special session to mark the two years anniversary of the 8th House of Representatives.
Thisday had written a report stating that Lawan was prevented from gaining access to his constituency by angry youths who barricaded the road and sent him back. Upset by the report, Lawan made a complaint to the senate, demanding an apology and retraction by the newspaper.
The matter was referred to the committee on ethics which summoned editors of the newspaper.
Adeniyi said if any lawmaker felt aggrieved over any publication, it was not for the senate to set up a committee to investigate the report.
He noted that the incident was one of the reasons behind the negative perception of the national assembly.
An efficient legislature, he said, should look out for the interest of the people and not be “defending the deflated egos of some members”.
“While committee investigations and hearings are normal parliamentary practices, turning such powers to instruments of oppression is unacceptable,” Adeniyi said.
“Let me cite one quick example. In the course of THISDAY editorial meeting on Wednesday, our senior editors in Abuja had to leave for the senate to respond to a summon by a committee investigating a story about whether or not the senate majority leader was prevented from entering his town by some mob as reported by our newspaper.
“If the senate majority leader, or any lawmaker for that matter, felt aggrieved by a publication, it is not for the whole senate to set up a committee to be investigating such story and be summoning editors. That is a clear abuse of power and a demonstration of lack of seriousness.
“Unfortunately, that has become a pattern and contributes to your negative perception. On matters of privileges that are personal, like in the instant case of the senate majority leader, the national assembly might wish to amend its rules in order to mitigate the prevailing public perception that the legislature is essentially a self-serving arm of government.”
He further urged members of the national assembly to “stir the nation with creative ideas and novel solutions than to continue to make news by scrambling over cars and making home videos.”