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Tension in Senate  As Anti- Saraki Senators Kick Against Committee Composition, Spoil for Showdown

Ayodele Afolabi, Abuja

BALTIMORE, MD (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The Tuesday session of the Senate  was tensed following recent composition of its Special and Standing committees as announced by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki last week Wednesday with request for their cancellation from some of the APC members.

Saraki had at the Senate sitting last Wednesday announced composition of 65 Senate Committees as against 57 listed in Orders 97 and 98 of the Senate standing rules.

The Senate President in the composition of Chairmanship positions of the Committees, allocated 41 of the positions to APC senators many of whom belonged to the Like Minds  Group and the remaining 24 to PDP senators.

But the Unity Forum Senators led by Kabiru Marafa ( APC Zamfara Central), at the commencement of Senate proceedings yesterday, kicked against the composition of the committee on the grounds of alleged illegality.

Marafa who rose through constitutional order to raise his objections to the formation of the committees faulted the process on three critical grounds.

According to him, the illegality of the whole process,  revolves around illegal  increase of the committee number from 57 to 65 , wrongful procedure of setting up the selection committee that collaborated with the Senate President in setting up the 65 committees and refusal of the Senate President to put the committees before the Senate for approval in line with Order 100 of its standing rules.

Marafa who cited  sections  60 and 62(1-4) of the 1999 constitution ( as amended) as well as Orders 197, 198 and 100 of the senate standing rules to buttress his points, also alleged that the ranking rule tradition of the senate was not respected in the composition of both the selection committee and the standing committees.

He said the selection committee was made up mainly of new senators, flouting the standing order, which specified that it should be constituted based on ranking, saying “What we are witnessing today in the National Assembly and the Senate in particular is legislative tyranny, where impunity wants to be the order of the day.

“Laws are meant to be respected and if we can treat our Order with impunity then we have no business being here. There is no committee. They are not legally constituted and they cannot function. Any further action is unacceptable to Nigerians and I have discharged that responsibility”

But the Senate President, Bukola Saraki refused to open the floor for debate over his argument by just telling him that all the points he raised in his argument were noted.

An action that made another Unity Forum member,  Senator, Suleiman Hunkuyi (APC Kaduna North), to raise another point of Order ( 70(e), calling  on the Senate President to address the weighty issues raised by Marafa on Senate Committee composition.

He said : The issues raised by Marafa  in his arguments against the recently composed special and standing committees of the senate are so weighty to be ignored as implied by the action of the Senate President who though did not rule him out of order but mere said that Marafa’s observations were noted.

“There is the urgent need for the Senate to address these issues sir because they border on the integrity of the House you preside over”

He was however ruled out of order by the Senate President in line with Order 64 which states that no senator should raise any other point of order on any issue already ruled upon by the Senate President.

Dissatisfied with Saraki’s refusal to entertain their complaints about the committees , both  Marafa and Hunkuyi later addressed the press to push their arguments further into the public domain.

At the press conference, Hunkuyi, who was appointed Vice Chairman, Federal Character Commission and Inter-Governmental Affairs, said there was no resolution on the committees at plenary, saying ‘`This is one of the three issues that we are contending.

“We are blowing the whistle, educating those that do not know and then throwing light on those areas that we feel require Nigerians to know”

However, in a swift reaction, the Spokesperson of the Senate, Sen. Abdullahi Sabi ( APC Niger North), said the committees were approved during the adoption of votes and proceedings.

Sabi said no lawmaker had the power to declare any proceeding in the House null and void because they were not judges.

He   said “the votes and proceedings of Wednesday, Nov. 4 were approved today and the approval contain the issues he is raising, and it is very clear that the composition of committee leadership was part of the votes and proceedings.

‘So, I don’t know what approval he is looking for a far as the senate is concerned, we have approved the chairmen and vice chairmen of the 65 committees. I want to believe that the issues raised by Sen.Marafa are not new at all.“It is just a repeat of what we have seen in the past.

The issues he has raised cannot be far from the leadership issue which you are all very familiar with”

He called on all aggrieved senators to sheath their sword and work for the progress of the country.

Meanwhile, the Senate observed a minute silence in honour of the Clerk of the Senate, Mr Adedotun Durojaiye, who died on Friday, Nov. 6, at 54.Senate also adjourned midway into plenary yesterday  in his honour.



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