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Nigerian lawmakers clear Senate president over car customs allegations

Reuters

ABUJA (Reuters) - The president of Nigeria's upper house of parliament has been cleared of any wrongdoing over allegations that he attempted to evade payment of customs duties on a car, the chairman of the Senate committee that investigated the claims said on Wednesday.

The car duty allegations related to newspaper reports that the Senate failed to pay import duties of 74 million naira ($240,650) on a bulletproof car worth 298 million naira.

The reports said the car belonged to Senate President Bukola Saraki.

Samuel Anyanwu, who chairs the Senate committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition, said its report found that Saraki had no links with the importer and dealer of the vehicle. Saraki had denied any wrongdoing.

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The lawmaker who raised the issues on the floor of the Senate, Senator Ali Ndume, was suspended for six months for a "failure to conduct proper investigation before making the allegations".

The allegations, which could have led to Saraki being impeached, were the latest in a series of such claims leveled at Nigeria's third-ranking official.

Saraki, who is a member of President Muhammadu Buhari's party, still faces charges of falsely declaring his assets when he was a state governor from 2003 to 2011. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

(Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Gareth Jones)