The Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre) has sent petition to the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, seeking probe of Senator representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye for alleged lavish display of money during the burial of his aged mother which took place in Gbede, Kogi State.
A video showing Senator Melaye spraying a mix of local and foreign currencies on locals during the burial ceremony has gone viral drawing widespread criticisms from many Nigerians
In a petition sent to the CBN, governor Mr. Godwin Emefiele,HEDA called for the immediate prosecution of the Senator by the appropriate authorities.
The statement signed by HEDA’ s Chairman Mr Olanrewaju Suraju said the action of Senator Melaye apart from setting unethical standards also violated the Nigerian constitution.
HEDA stated “Critical review of the video that has gone viral over the social media, goes to the root of irony as men and women elected into power who ought to lead by example are the ones found disobeying and breaking the laws and this only goes to show the irony and the complete lack of integrity in our electoral process that we elect into power men and women who make laws and still find it difficult to abide by them.”
It said HEDA is perturbed by the disgraceful flouting of the law by a Senator as this is a display of complete mockery of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended) in Section 4 (2) that the National Assembly shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation or any part thereof with respect to any matter included in the Exclusive Legislative List set out in Part I of the Second Schedule to this Constitution.”
The rights group said “We believe this action of the lawmaker is an outright violation of and disregard for the currency and also show of bad precedence.
“Leaders ought to lead by example and in accordance with provisions of the law. The Act in reference is absolutely clear on the provisions as stated above. However, our organization believes in the presumption of innocence; hence the need for the petition and prompt action”
It said the position occupied by Senator Melaye, being a public office is one that calls for utmost integrity, accountability and responsibility but he is at the same time not above the law and should have avoided public disdain as allegedly displayed at the ceremony. This spraying of the currency amounts to tampering with the currency against Section 21 of the Central Bank Act, 2007 which is an offence punishable by law.”
HEDA demanded for an immediate and urgent investigation of the said allegation of spraying of money in the video in line with the provisions of the law and with the view to visiting the perpetrators with the claws of the law.
It said the petition was hinged on the provisions of Section 21 of the Central Bank Act, 2007.
The Act states “(1) A person who tampers with a coin or note issued by the Bank is guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not less than six months or to a fine not less than N50,000 or to both such fine and imprisonment.
In section two, it stated further “A coin or note shall be deemed to have been tampered with if the coin or note has been impaired, diminished or lightened otherwise than by fair wear and tear or has been defaced by stumping, engraving, mutilating, piercing, stapling, writing, tearing, soiling, squeezing or any other form of deliberate and willful abuse whether the coin or note has or has not been thereby diminished or lightened.”
Also in Section 21 (3), in addition to the Provisions of Section 21 (1& 2), it also states as follows;
That “for the avoidance of doubt, spraying of, dancing or matching on the Naira or any note issued by the Bank during social occasions or otherwise howsoever shall constitute an abuse and defacing of the Naira or such note and shall be punishable under sub-section (1) of this section”
The Act also defines the words “Matching” and “Spraying” in Section 21 (5) “spreading scattering or littering of any surface with any Naira notes or coins and stepping thereon, regardless of the value, volume, occasion or intent.”
The same section categorised spraying to include “adorning, decorating or spraying anything or any person or any part of any person or the person of another with Naira notes or coins or sprinkling or sticking of the Naira notes or coins in a similar manner regardless of the amount, occasion or the intent.” HEDA said all the relevant sections were violated by Senator Melaye.
The State that had arrested and even obtained a court order for his continued detention of Mr. Omoyele Sowore on the allegation of promoting “revolution” by mere pronouncement and planned rally even when there is no action element to support such revolution should nor hesitate, in the interest of rule of law, to arrest Senator Melaye and subsequently prosecute him for his flagrant violation of the law.