senateINDICATIONS have
emerged that the crack in
the relationship between the
Presidency and the Senate may
further widen over President
Muhammadu Buhari’s
ministerial nominee and
former Rivers State governor,
Rotimi Amaechi, as sources say
it may be very difficult for the
Senate to confirm him.
It was gathered that the
Senate deferred the screening
of the remaining 18 ministerial
nominees sent to it by President
Buhari for confirmation due
to the unresolved issues on
the petition against Amaechi
by its ad hoc committee on
ethics, privileges and public
petitions, headed by Senator
Sam Anyanwu (PDP Imo East).
Recall that Amaechi’s name
was listed among the first batch
of 11 nominees for screening
on Tuesday when the Senate
began the exercise, but was
deferred when the committee
could not submit a report of its
findings on the petition against
him by the Integrity Group
from Rivers State.
Journalists and other
Nigerians, who had in their
usual way besieged the
National Assembly complex,
especially since the screening
of the ministerial nominees
began, were surprised on
Thursday when the screening
was not listed on the Senate
Order Paper.
Nigerian Pilot Saturday later
gathered that the screening
was not listed, majorly because
of Amaechi, so that the Senate
could buy more time to pacify
some of its members who were
reportedly bent on ensuring
that the former governor
is not confirmed due to his
indictment by a commission
of inquiry set up by the Rivers
State government to probe his
administration.
“What is happening at the
moment is all politics. There
is no way the Senate can
continue with the screening
today (Thursday) because if it
does, Amaechi will not be part
of it and this will raise a lot of
suspicion among Nigerians,
and even heat up the polity.
“You all know about the
petition against him (Amaechi)
and I must tell you that it is
generating serious tension
and problem among the
senators across party divides.
Again, members of the
Senate Committee on Ethics,
Privileges and Public Petitions
have not been able to meet to
agree on their report due to
the complexity of the petition
against him,” our source
disclosed.
It was also learnt that Amaechi
and others could not be screened on Thursday because
the committee chairman
travelled out of Abuja to know
his fate at the Tribunal which
gave judgment in the petition
against his election in Owerri,
the Imo State capital.
But the Senate spokesperson,
Senator Dino Melaye (APC
Kogi West) said Amaechi
would be screened on Tuesday,
next week.
According to him, the
committee would present the
petition that day, after which
Amaechi would be screened
by the Senate.
Dino, who is a member of the
committee, posited that since
the position of the committee
on petitions against Amaechi
was based on the Senate rule
of not deliberating on matters
already in court, the senate
would adopt it and screen
Amaechi.
“The committee has a one
line report that the matter is in
court and that in compliance
with our laid down rules and
regulations that any case that
is undergoing judicial remedy
cannot be discussed and that we
have distanced ourselves from it
and the report will be presented
on Tuesday by the grace of
God and I assure Nigerians
that Former Governor Rotimi
Amaechi by the grace of God,
will be screened on Tuesday,”
he said.
He added that further
screening and confirmation
of the remaining ministerial
nominees have also been
slated for Tuesday next week,
saying: “we are going to screen
nine of them on Tuesday and
the remaining nine would be
taken on Wednesday.”
The committee chairman
had on Tuesday when asked
to present the report by the
Senate President, Dr. Bukola
Saraki, promised to do so on
Wednesday morning, which
he however postponed to
Thursday; that too didn’t take
place.
Anyanwu on the two
instances explained to the
Senate President that all
members of the committee
would have to meet for
ratification of the report before
submitting it to the Senate.
It was gathered on Wednesday
evening from a member of the
13- man committee that quorum
was not formed at the meeting
called by Anyanwu for that
purpose, making it impossible
for the committee chairman to
submit its report .
The source said it was only
Senators Anyanwu and Obinna
Ogba (Ebonyi Central) that were
available at Hearing Room 120,
venue of the meeting almost
an hour after, which members
ought to have commenced
meeting on the report.
At about 7:00 p.m. on
Wednesday, the committee
chairman told journalists in his
office that he was still waiting
for the committee members
to come to his office for the
meeting.
Anyanwu had last week
clarified that the suspension of
investigation into the petitions
against Amaechi, did not mean
express clearance for the former
governor to become minister
after facing the Senate’s
screening.
According to him, the
screening of Amaechi would be
based on the committee report
to the Senate.
Investigations by Nigerian
Pilot Saturday further revealed
that some senators, especially
members of the PDP among
them have been planning a
plot to sabotage the screening
of the nominee by the Senate.
“It has been their plan
even before Mr. President
sent the list of his ministerial
nominees to us. You will recall
that the plan was started
when there was a rumour that
Amaechi wanted to be made
Secretary to Government of
the Federation.
“The panel in Rivers was
purposely set up to stop
Amaechi from getting any
appointment from this
administration. But is that
possible after his efforts along
with others to effect change in
the country?
“Let me tell you, they will
only succeed in widening
the crack in the relationship
between this senate and Mr.
President, because there is no
way the Senate can stop the
confirmation of Amaechi, since
the constitution recognises
the court of law as the only
institution that can indict
anybody in Nigeria.
When the former governor
appeared before the committee
on October 12 in Abuja, he told
the committee that the issues
raised in the petition against
him, were already a subject of
litigation, and the committee,
in line with the Senate rules,
said it could not deliberate on
it.
The Integrity Group in its
voluminous petition, signed
by one Livingstone Wechie,
requested the Senate to reject
the nomination of Amaechi as
a minister on the grounds of
alleged corruption, criminal
breach of trust, unlawful
enrichment and conversion
of over N70 billion Rivers
people’s money when he
served as the state governor
between 2007 and 2015.
According to the group,
details of the N70 billion
allegedly stolen by Amaechi
as Executive Governor of
the state, have already been
forwarded to the Economic
and Financial Crimes
Commission, EFCC and the
Independent Corrupt Practices
Commission and other related
offences Commission, ICPC for
the needed investigation and
prosecution.
The group added that all
efforts made so far to recover
the said loot or get Ameachi to
account for or explain to Rivers
people the whereabouts of
the over N70billion allegedly
embezzled by him , have been
resisted with impunity.

 

…As Naira rains in the Senate

MEANWHILE, President
Muhammadu Buhari will be
scandalised about the millions
that changed hands within the
past one week when the Senate
unveiled the list of ministerial
nominees he forwarded to the
upper chamber of the National
Assembly.
Findings reveal that in the
course of lobby for clearance,
some nominees that knew they
had hurdles before them went
the way of their predecessors and
“appropriately reached out” to
those that could facilitate smooth
sail for them during the screening
process.
According to our findings, the
ministerial nominees that opened
their bank vaults to ensure they
are not knocked out are mainly
from the southern part of the
country.
These are nominees having
problems in their home states
where opposition is stiff against
their nomination into the federal
cabinet.
Not only did lobbyists benefit
from the loot, the ministerial
nominees were also reported
to have reached out to some
influential media practitioners
to prevail on their colleagues
to water down issues that may
jeopardise their chances of being
cleared by the Senate.
Several workers in the Senate
wing of the National Assembly
were also reported to have
benefited from the naira rain as
they rendered one service or the
other to the ministerial nominees
ahead of their screening.


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