- Tinubu, Melaye clash over Buhari
- Immunity Bill for leaders tears Reps apart
There was pandemonium yesterday at the Senate when some senators advocated the commencement of impeachment against President Muhammadu Buhari, so as to prove to him that the parliament has a stronger hold on him than he could possibly think.
It happened during a closed door session chaired by the Senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki, held before the day’s plenary.
Also, the House of Representatives became rowdy yesterday due to a bill seeking the amendment of Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to provide immunity for presiding officers of Federal and State Assembly.
Over the impeachment matter, Senator Dino Melaye (APC Kogi West), who has openly demonstrated his love and support for the cause of Saraki, almost went overboard when he allegedly threatened to beat up Senator Oluremi Tinubu (APC Lagos Central) who was said to have raised her voice against him in cautioning him while he was describing the president in the negatives.
The trouble, it was gathered, was was part of the fallouts of the ongoing forgery case trial recently instituted against the Senate president, his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, and two others by the federal government, which has pitched senators against one another.
Melaye, sources said, used unpalatable sexual derogatory language on her, which was said had some senators cringing while others were said to be making cat calls supporting Melaye as he rained abuses on Senator Tinubu.
A senator who craved anonymity told newsmen in confidence that the fight was clearly between members of the opposing groups in the Senate – ‘the Like Minds’ who support Saraki, and the ‘Unity Forum,’ his antagonists who are having the backing of the presidency.
The session had reportedly opened with a call by the Like Minds to some of the Unity Forum members like Senators Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi and Kabir Marafa who still have pending cases in court against Saraki to withdraw the suits in the interest of peace.
Loyalists of Saraki, it was said, insisted that the strength of the new criminal forgery case against Saraki and Ekweremadu was premised on the civil suits instituted by the duo.
It would be recalled that a peace and reconciliation committee set up some months ago by Saraki to find a uniting platform for the feuding senators had recommended the disbandment of the two groups and also the withdrawal of the cases instituted by the Marafa’s camp against the emergence of Saraki and Ekweremadu as presiding officers of the Senate.
The committee report, which was yet to be debated after it was presented about eight weeks ago in another executive session, also recommended that the interest of the Unity Forum members should be taken care of to give them a sense of belonging in the Senate. None of the proposals made in the report has been adhered to by the Senate leadership.
Yesterday’s executive session saw members of the two camps fighting the interest of their camps with the Saraki supporters, who were more, said to be shouting down his alleged traducers whenever any of them stood up to make comments.
Senator Melaye, it was said, insisted that those being used by the executive to harass Saraki, especially the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, must be humbled at all cost, no matter what it takes.
Malami had twice rejected invitation by the Senate to appear before its Committee on Judiciary to explain why he ordered the prosecution of Saraki, as well as where he derived such power since a court had earlier ruled on the matter in favour of Saraki.
Melaye was said to have insisted that Malami must be forced to appear before the Senate and must be ridiculed thoroughly to serve as a deterrent to others working for the president in the bid to pull Saraki down.
Senator Tinubu, who was said to have been given the opportunity to speak immediately after Melaye, allegedly commented that some words and action of some senators in the fight against the presidency was “like a kindergarten pupil,” a statement that allegedly threw Senator Melaye into a fit.
Our source confirmed that Melaye cut Tinubu short as he allegedly shouted her down, a move resisted by the female senator who was said to have told Melaye she’s not his age mate.
It was said that while Senator Melaye, whose voice raised higher that Tinubu’s was battering her with derogatory words, the Senate president was said to have been laughing cynically while the woman struggled to match the baritone voice of her male contending colleague.
While a few of the senators were said to have made efforts at getting both senators to calm down, four other male senators made up of two from PDP and two from APC, were said to have joined Melaye in abusing Senator Tinubu.
The fight in the Senate chamber yesterday behind closed doors was said to be a continuation of a plot to oust President Buhari which move was said to have commenced in the Asokoro, home of a former governor of a North-West state, who is now a senator.
One of our sources disclosed that three of their colleagues openly threatened to arrange assassination of any senator who goes to the court to testify against Saraki while another source who had confirmed all that transpired, denied such threat as made by any senator against another.
Rowdy session in Reps over immunity bill for presiding officers
Meanwhile, there was a rowdy session yesterday on the floor of the House Representatives on a bill seeking the amendment of Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to provide immunity for presiding officers of Federal and State Assembly.
Nigerian Pilot recalls that the House had on June 23, 2016 adjourned plenary to July 12, 2016 for the Eid-el-Fitr celebration.
On resumption of plenary on Tuesday, the Minority Leader of the House, Hon. Leo Ogor (PDP, Delta) in his ‘Bill for an Act to Alter Section 308 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and for Other Related Matters (HB. 97), canvassed that the immunity clause should be extended to the presiding officers.
He explained that the bill seeks to increase Section 308 (3) to include the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu; Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon Yussuff Lasun as well as Speaker of State House of Assembly and Deputy Speaker of State House of Assembly, who are presiding officers of the legislative arm of government.
Ogor said that there was urgent need to protect the independence of the legislature and also prevent principal officers of the legislature in both the federal and the state from being distracted with court summons.
He, therefore, called for the amendment of Section 308 of the Constitution, which only gives immunity to the president, vice, president, governors and their deputies to also include the presiding officers of the National Assembly.
The atmosphere in the House was charged when the House Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos) in opposition to the bill, argued that the timing of the bill was wrong.
Gbajabiamila pointed out that it would send wrong signals as the electorate will presume that the bill was out to frustrate the fight against corruption under which the Senate President was being prosecuted.
According to him, “We are here to legislate; we are here to represent our people. If we pass this bill, will the people support it? I don’t know of any country where the legislature is shielded from prosecution. Let’s make laws that will endure. Let’s not make laws based on situations that arise. We are here to represent our people”.
In his contribution, Hon Aliyu Madaki (APC, Kano) who flaunted the House rule, called for the protection of the integrity of the House, adding that the bill should be thrown out.
The hornet’s nest was, however, stirred when the Speaker of the House, Hon. Yakubu Dogara refused to subject the bill to a voice vote.
After much agitation and commotion on the floor, the speaker finally made a u-turn and referred the bill to the ad-hoc Committee on Constitution amendment headed by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon Yussuff Lasun for further legislative action.
“Bills like this is sent directly to the House ad-hoc Committee on Constitution amendment for further legislative input”, Dogara pointed out.
Earlier, the House Committee Chairman on Rules and Business, Hon Orker Jev Emmanuel (APC, Benue), citing order 8, Section 98(3) said that such bills was supposed to be sent to the appropriate committee upon second reading.
Reacting on the bill, Hon. Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta) described the present impasse between the Senate leadership and the executive as ‘executive imperialism’, adding that the bill only seeks to protect the legislature.
“The issue is the protection of the institution of the legislature. We need to guarantee the institution that will guarantee the protection of the people” Ossai said.