The quest by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to oust President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress, APC from power in 2019 will only be realized with the pair of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the incumbent Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu as the standard bearers for the leading opposition party at the next election.
By Ike A. Offor
The Deputy Senate President, Dr Ike Ekweremadu made a very brilliant case in his submission in the Senate plenary session over the case of Innoson Group boss, Chief Innocent Ifediaso Chukwuma.
He addressed issues many are afraid to speak on and laid to rest the separation of powers and strict adherence to the tenets of democracy where the constitution is paramount than power of money and connections.
He had this to say:
“If we reduce our security agencies into agencies of debt recovery, then we are doomed as a nation,”
“I would like to seek your indulgence to raise the matter of Mr. Innocent Chukwuma who we call ‘Innoson,’ by the EFCC over a matter between Mr. Chukwuma and Guarantee Trust Bank.
“At the inception of this Senate, we all took an oath to defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. God forbid that a day will come when we will sit back as a Senate and watch an attack on the liberty of any citizen.”
“Yesterday, I got a number of messages indicating that Mr. Innocent Chukwuma was arrested by the EFCC over a transaction between him and GTBank.
“This morning, I made an effort and I spoke with him. His story is straight forward: he said he was at his house at 5am on Tuesday when he heard gun shots and he thought they were assassins and he went into hiding.
“After about two hours, he saw some people and policemen, and he thought that help had come. So, he came out of hiding and ran to a policeman who promptly arrested him.
“He tried to find out what his offence was and they told him that when they get to the police station, they would inform him of the offence. As of today, nobody has told him what the offence is.
“Any person who is arrested and detained should be informed about the reason for their arrest. As I speak, Mr. Innoson Chukwuma has yet to be informed of what led to his arrest or detention, but if you go through the media today, the story is that he is owing GTB.
“As a lawyer, I’m at a loss (for words) on how a transaction between someone and his bank will concern the EFCC.”
“The story he told me is that he was not owing the bank anything; that he borrowed money from the bank, which he had since repaid, but the bank kept charging him money and withdrawing it from his account.
“They set up an audit and the auditor came to a conclusion that they had deducted more than N500m.
“He insisted on 22 per cent (interest on the deductions), the bank said they would pay 17 per cent; that was where they had the disagreement.”
Some, though due to the pandemic tribal sentiments in Nigeria, have already ruled this case and have found Chief Innocent Chukwuma guilty in the issue, though many have no good idea of the case at hand.
If the boss of Innoson group, had this to say to the deputy Senate President, one would take this to be a credible statement from him, though the GTBank is yet to issue any official statement to enable the public determine their position.
Many have asked why has GTBank failed to issue any official statement since the saga broke out, and why are they allowing this to tarnish their customer service image, and their reputation as a public service provider?
From Fred Itua, Abuja
DEPUTY Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, has said Nigeria will soon have a revised Constitution as the ongoing amendment will soon be over.
Ekweremadu also promised that a new constitution, ready to be signed into law, would soon be presented to the President.
The lawmaker said this when the Inter-Party Advisory Council of Nigeria (IPAC) visited him, at the weekend, on the ongoing constitution amendment.
He said the National Assembly is still holding consultations with some critical stakeholders, to ensure smooth sail of the amendment and an outcome that will be in tune with the aspirations of Nigerians.
“For instance, we have gone to the Judiciary. We have gone to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other stakeholders, asking them to express their views. We got a lot of responses. So, we are going ahead, and your visit will help to shape the final document we will present to the Senate.”
Ekweremadu, who is chairman of the Senate Commit- tee on Constitution Review, said current consultations would culminate in a joint retreat, in a few weeks, to en- able members of the Senate and House committees reach consensus on issues slated for amendment.
He said representatives of Houses of Assembly would be part of the retreat, “to arm them with firsthand knowledge of proposed amendments, ahead of transmission of the alteration bills to them for approval.”
He also explained that the current exercise drew substantially from the failed Fourth Alteration Bill and that proposed amendments would be drafted into several alteration bills, to avoid a situation where rejection of one amendment could lead to the death of the entire amendments.
Meanwhile, Ekweremadu has blamed withdrawal of government subventions for political parties on abuse.
“We had to amend the constitution, to remove that; the reason being that it was thoroughly abused by some people. They register a political party and wait for the election. The government gives them subvention, then, they put it in their pockets and make no efforts to win. To them, political parties were platforms for making cool money from the government.” Rather than wait for government’s funding, he urged political parties to agitate for the introduction of proportional representation, to widen political representation in the Legislature, which would, in turn, help smaller political parties to thrive.
Earlier in his address, IPAC National Chairman, Mohammed Nalado, said they are making efforts, with the support of international agencies, among others, to facilitate electoral reforms that would guarantee free, fair, credible and transparent electoral process in Nigeria. (The Sun)
Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
An Upper Area Court, in Gudu, Abuja, on Tuesday, remanded 50-year-old Ahmed Echodo in Keffi Prison, Nasarawa State, for allegedly giving false information which was said to have misled the police to raid the official Guest House of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, in Maitama, Abuja.
The police were said to have executed a search warrant on the property on Friday, May 27 based on the alleged false information given by Echodo.
After the defendant pleaded not guilty to a First Information Report on Tuesday, the presiding Chief Upper Area Court judge, Umar Kagarko, directed that he (defendant) be remanded in prison pending the ruling on his bail application to be delivered on June 5.
A steward in Ekweremadu’s guest house, Mr. Oliver Ogenyi, was said to have been arrested during the police operation.
Ogenyi was reportedly taken to the Inspector General of Police Special Squad Office in Guzape District, Abuja, but was later released.
The First Information Report filed before the Upper Area Court accused Echodo of criminal conspiracy and giving false information to mislead police.
According to the FIR, Echodo conspired with Maiwa Adamu (now at large) to commit the alleged offences.
The FIR signed by the prosecuting police officer, David Taiwo, who is an Assistant Superintendent of Police, stated that the alleged offences were contrary to section 97(1) and 140 of the Penal Code Law.
The FIR read, “That on May 26, 2017, at about 0900hrs, you Ahmed Echodo, ‘m, aged 50 years of No. 44, Living Truth Street, Masaaka, Nasarawa State and one Maiwada Adamu (now at large) did conspire with yourselves by informing the office of IGP, STS at Guzape Area of the FCT, Abuja, that House No. 10 Games Street, Maitama, FCT, Abuja occupied by Oliver Ogenyi is being maintained and used for criminal activities including keeping of arms and ammunition.
“Unfortunately, after the police carried out diligence execution of the search warrant, no incriminating items were found therein. You, by such action, misled the police and hereby committed the above offences.”
The defendant pleaded not guilty to the offences on Tuesday.
He also challenged the genuineness of police allegations when asked by the judge whether he understood the information preferred against him.
Echodo, who stood in the defendant’s box during the proceedings, demanded that the police be made to state whether the alleged false information he gave was in written or oral form.
Echodo said, “They (police) have not shown me how the information was passed to them by me. Was it oral or written? When they went to the house with Wada (who was said to be at large), I was not there.”
After the defendant pleaded not guilty, the prosecuting police officer, Taiwo, had asked for an adjournment for trial.
But the defence lawyer, Peters Ugwuoke, made an oral bail application, urging the court to grant bail to his client pending trial.
The lawyer cited section 36(5) of the 1999 Constitution and sections 198 and 162 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, to back his application.
Ugwuoke said his client would not jump bail and would never interfere with investigation or trial, adding that the defendant was ready to provide reasonable persons to stand as sureties for him.
But the prosecution counsel opposed the bail application, arguing that there was no material before the court to warrant the exercise of the court’s discretion in favour of the defendant.
He added that the defendant ought to have deposed to an affidavit to back the bail application.
The presiding judge of the court, fixed June 5, 2017, for ruling on the bail application. (Punchng.com)
At about 8am on Friday, May 26, 2017, men of the Nigeria Police Force from the Inspector General of Police Special Squad raided the official guest house of the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, located at No. 10 Ganges Street, Maitama, Abuja. The police, however, stated at the end of the search that nothing incriminating was found.
They met the steward, Oliver Ogenyi, and some of Ekweramdu’s staff and their children in the house. In spite of the fact that they were informed that the property is the guest house of the Deputy President of the Senate, they nevertheless proceeded to thoroughly search the house without establishing any contact with the Deputy President of the Senate or any of his senior staff. The steward was taken away by the police to the Special Anti-Robbery (SARS) Office, Garki, Abuja, where the IGP Special Squad’s office is also located. Ogenyi was later released after making a statement.
The Deputy President of the Senate is a law-abiding citizen and does not dispute the fact that the security agencies are empowered by law to carry out searches on premises in accordance with the law. However, the law requires that the owner of the property or his representative must be informed and should be present during the search.
Senator Ekweremadu is worried about the manner in which his guest house was raided. The questions are: Was there a search warrant? What were they looking for? Who searched the police officers before the search? Who supervised the search? Etc.
Instructively, this incident comes just a few weeks after Senator Ekweremadu, on May 3, 2017, read to the Senate in plenary a written, but anonymous tip-off by a patriotic Nigerian on a plot to plant incriminating sums of foreign currencies, arms, and ammunitions in a house linked to him under the pretext of the whistle blower policy. The aim, according to the source, was to rubbish, arrest, prosecute, and ultimately remove Senator Ekweremadu from office.
It is also apposite at this point to inform Nigerians that the Deputy President of the Senate had received at least three different forewarnings from various highly-placed sources before the written tip-off he read before the Senate, and they all pointed in the same direction: a clandestine effort to uproot the Senator from office by all means possible.
Therefore, this latest act of desperation, intimidation, and disregard for due process further substantiates all the forewarnings.
Furthermore, we have it on good authority that agencies of government are currently scavenging through all the land registries and various banks within and outside the country to find incriminating reasons to arrest, embarrass, and prosecute him.
The Deputy President of the Senate is also aware of a report revealing that some people within the government met with some top echelons of the security and anti-graft agencies at Maitama, Abuja, on May 17, 2017, to explore strategies to the arrest, prosecute, and remove him and some other Senators out of political circulation, by hook or crook to pave way for a total takeover of the National Assembly.
These schemers have scheduled to meet again on June 13, 2017 as they hope to conclude their evil and anti-democratic machinations during the annual recess of the National Assembly when lawmakers will not be on ground to resist them.
Nigerians and the international community will recall that Senator Ekweremadu and the Senate President were, in June 2016, arraigned before a Federal Capital Territory High Court on trumped-up charges of forgery of Senate Standing Rules (2015) even when the petition by members of the Senate Unity Forum, statements by Senators and bureaucrats interrogated by the police, and indeed the police report itself did not mention, let alone accuse or indict any of them of any wrongdoing. The Senate’s presiding officers were docked when the proof of evidence did not establish any culpability on their part.
The orchestrated political trial, calculated witch-hunt, barefaced intimidation, and clear attempt to emasculate the parliament and silence the leadership of the Senate, was eventually, but reluctantly withdrawn when external counsel briefed by the AGF, after studying the file, advised the Federal Government to do so.
It is also worth recalling that neither the police nor any of the security agencies has cared to investigate or even interview the Deputy President of the Senate on the attempt on his life on November 17, 2015, even when the dastardly act was duly reported to them.
Therefore, the Deputy President of the Senate condemns in strong terms the prevailing situation where people in positions of power, blindfolded by extreme selfish interests, are using security agencies to harass, embarrass, and intimidate political opponents.
He believes that there are so many pressing national challenges that should worry all of us than this needless and continued witch-hunting, disregard for rule of law, and brazen political highhandedness, which is inevitably overheating the polity.
By the grace of God, this too shall pass.
Special Adviser (Media)
I just finished speaking to the Deputy Senate President and he confirmed to me that his home was raided by security forces today.
This is shameful and shocking. Raiding the homes of our friends and leaders like Ekweremadu and harrasing their children will not deter, stop or silence those of us that are in the opposition. It will only harden our hearts and strengthen our resolve.
As each day goes by more and more people have come to accept the fact that the Buhari administration is a government of FASCISTS and BEASTS.
They are led and guided by dark and sinister forces whose sole agenda is to divide our people and destroy our country.
It is about time that Nigerians woke up and stood up to their madness and tyranny.
We must employ all lawful means to resist them and expose them for what they are. Not only are they incompetent but they are also sadistic and wicked.
Nowhere in the world do citizens sit by idly and say nothing when their rights are being violated in this way.
The Federal Government is trying to foster and engender an atmosphere of fear and terror and this will not work because we refuse to be intimidated.
You illegally and indefinately lock up Sambo Dasuki, El Zak Zaky, Ifeanyi Uba and countless others and you criminalise them before the world.
Worse still you refuse to bring them before the courts of law or to give their lawyers full and free access to them.
You demonise opposition members and those that criticise your government whilst you treat your own party members and government officials as if they were angels and saints even when and where they indulge in monuemental acts of depravity and corruption.
Instead of protecting the lives Nigerians from the barbaric Fulani militias and herdsmen and other genocidal maniacs you are using the security forces to wage war against the opposition and the Nigerian people.
We expected this sort of thing from the tyrant called President Buhari but we did not expect it from Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
He is an erudite lawyer and a gentleman of good stock and noble blood and he really should know better.
My belief is that the Acting President may not have known about this barbaric raid and if that is the case I implore him to put a leash on his dogs and stop them from terrorising innocent Nigerians.
Their behaviour is not only shameful but it is also uttterly reprehensible and let them be rest assured that their desperate attempt to dehumanise us and bring us to our knees will fail because God is with us.
An attack on or the violation of the constitutional rights of Ekweremadu or any other opposition figure or dissenting voice in this nation is an attack on ALL of us.
This sort of thing MUST stop because this is a democracy and not a military dictatorship.
A member of the Senate Unity Forum, a group within the All Progressives Congress senators in the red chamber, Senator Kabir Marafa, in this interview with LEKE BAIYEWU, explains how Senator Ali Ndume was removed as the Majority Leader and the next move by the caucus
Why did the Senate APC caucus change its leadership on Wednesday?
When we reconvened at the 8th Assembly, you all know what happened. There was leadership tussle; we had the Like Minds Senators and the Senate Unity Forum, where Senator Ahmed Lawan contested on the SUF platform and Senator Bukola Saraki contested on the LMS. Like we all know, it is God who gives leadership and God gave it to Senator Bukola Saraki and that brought some friction between the two camps of the same APC.
Naturally, when there is such a crisis, the next port of call is the parents — in this case, we all know who the parents of all politicians The President, and the leader of the party. We rushed to the party and said this was what happened. The party, after looking at the whole scenario and all that happened, said since he (Saraki) had taken this one (Senate President), the remaining four positions, that is, the Senate Leader, Deputy Senate Leader, Chief Whip and the Deputy Chief Whip, should be ceded to the SUF faction of the APC caucus in order to bring the caucus together. But as fate would have it, the LMS faction didn’t see it that way that time. That was what led to all the crisis. We in the SUF felt that it was disobedience (by the LMS faction) to the party.
From that time till today, anybody who wishes APC well had this at the back of their minds and all hands had been on deck to ensure that the crisis is resolved. So, pressure had been mounting on all the APC senators, on the need for us to come together but we (SUF) insisted that the only way we could come together was when we all respect our party because it was the party that brought us into this place (Senate) because elections are held on the basis of the party, not individuals. If the party says this thing belongs to us (SUF), we want you to give it to us. What you have seen today is just a result of all the pressure mounting over time.
Why did the caucus meet on Monday and how did it arrive at the decision to change its leadership?
Our rule says that once you become anything, the only way you can be removed is through constitutional means. Now, since there was a nomination, the only way we can reverse it is to follow the rules. Our Standing Rules, precisely Order 32(6), spells out how leadership can be removed — leadership, not presiding officers; presiding officers have the rules that specify how they can be removed. Order 32(6) spells it out that any party can change its leadership, provided it has the majority (to take the decision). You need to have the majority to effect the change.
Ndume said he was not aware of the whole process. How did the caucus hatch the plan without his knowledge?
With due respect to him, the law didn’t say someone must know or everybody must know. Order 32(g)(IV) says, ‘After due notice of the Senate, each party has the right to change its leader or whip provided that the change is made by a majority of the senators of a party in the Senate.’ That is all it says. It didn’t say we have to notify him or her or anybody; just notify the Senate. And that was what the Senate President (Bukola Saraki) did. It (the decision) has the signatures of people (at the meeting). It can be used to establish the fact that the majority took the decision. If you don’t have the majority and you are questioning why you were removed, I will protest too.
With this move, can you now say that the APC has forgiven Saraki for hijacking the leadership of the Senate from the party?
I am not an official of the APC, so I don’t think it is fair for you to ask me that question; you should ask the APC leadership that question. But as a party member, I feel it can be taken for granted because the party said it by itself; it wrote a letter (saying) that we have accepted you but we want you to do this. So, if he does that, automatically, it shows that he’s been forgiven.
If there is anything now, the remaining problem is about what we do with our Deputy Senate President — my leader and my boss. I will tell him that he should exploit the provision of our Constitution — Section 68(g) — that says when there is a rift in a political party, members can defect to another party. Let me use the opportunity to call on my leader and my boss, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, to please defect to the APC and that will seal the whole thing and there will never be a problem since we will become one. That is the only seat we are contesting because the seat belongs to us and, Ekweremadu, is from the Peoples Democratic Party. Now, if he just defect to our party, shikenah! (That’s all.) Everything becomes one.
Is your next move for Ekweremadu’s seat?
I am telling you that he has the opportunity now. Let him just defect. The beauty of any political party is the people. If you can join us, join us. We want more people. Instead of moving against his seat, let him join us.
What if he refuses to join the APC?
He will! I am using this medium now to tell him to please join the APC. It is when he says he is not joining (the party) that you can come back to say Ike has refused to join the APC, what are you going to do? I am using this medium now to call on Ike to join APC.
He has the golden opportunity: Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Senator Ali Modu Sheriff have successfully to our delight, caused a division in the PDP. We are always praying that their power tussle will continue. While I pray for Makarfi to have the upper hand, I am also praying for Sheriff to have the power and ability to sustain the fight, so that we (APC) will be taking the senators one by one.
The Constitution says once there is a division (in a political party), senators can defect. Let all well-meaning APC members and even people who are sympathetic to the APC, let Ike (Ekweremadu) — instead of moving against his seat, which I don’t want to do because he was my leader in the 6th and 7th Assembly and now in the 8th Assembly — use this golden opportunity to defect to the APC and the party will become one in the Senate. Then, I can tell you that the Senate will be stable and there won’t be any friction. The little (issue) we can then have may be due to human nature. You never can say that you will gather people and they will not disagree.
Many people believe that Ndume was removed due to the issue surrounding the nomination of the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, by President Muhammadu Buhari.
I have told you what the reason is but you’re now alleging something else. What is the Magu issue?
Was Ndume not sacked because of his reaction to the way the Senate rejected Magu’s nomination?
I don’t know about that but let me tell you something: there is no way I, Kabir Marafa, will oppose anything the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria brings to the floor of the Senate. So, if you are saying it is because of that (Magu), do you think people like us in the SUF will oppose him? Nobody will, definitely. So, that is out of the question. As far as I am concerned, I am telling you that there is nothing like that because I am not opposed to Magu — I make bold to say that. Why then will I support any move against anyone who supports Magu?
Having said that, I think we should desist from this politics of tribalism, sectionalism or ethnicity. If you say it is because of Magu, you should have asked why he (Ndume) is supporting Magu that way. I supported Magu even though Magu is not from my place (state). We should be seen as senators of Nigeria than to be supporting you, regardless of where we come from. I don’t want that issue to be raised because it will raise a lot of sentiments against us. But I can tell you that I supported Magu and I will support anything the President brings. Henceforth, you will see the APC and say, ‘this is what we have been missing.’ Henceforth, you will see that the two groups (SUF and LMS) will be liquidated and you will not hear anything like, Like Minds or Unity Forum; it is going to be APC. Whatever the President brings, we are going to support it. If we have any grouse or misgivings, we will go and sit down with our President and our party, trash issues and come out well. We have seen how they did it in the Peoples Democratic Party when we were in the minority. We don’t want issues like (staging) walkouts; we don’t want PDP to stage another walkout. Let us just take Ekweremadu’s seat and we will leave them with the rest. (Punchng.com)
Says FG’s tariffs highest in West Africa
From Fred Itua, Abuja
Senate, yesterday, unanimously rejected the Federal Government’s ban on importation of vehicles through land borders into the country.
The Red Chamber It described the policy as anti-people and meant to further impoverish Nigerians.
Deputy Senate President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu who presided at yesterday’s plenary, specifically urged President Muhammadu Buhari to listen to the cries of Nigerians and rescind the decision.
“From the contributions here, it is obvious that the policy is unpopular. We are representatives of the people and the people have spoken through us that they do not want this policy. I think those in government should listen to them,” said Ekweremadu.
Adopting two, of the three prayers, Senate called on Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to, “immediately, suspend further action on the ban on importation of vehicles through our land borders as January 1, 2017.”
Senate Committee on Customs and Excise has been mandated to investigate the circumstances which led to government’s decision.
Sponsor of the motion, Barau Jibrin, from Kano State, explained that the ban would lead to the loss of about 500,000 jobs.
He further argued: “The economy of border villages and towns that depend on the activities of vehicles importation shall be adversely affected, to the detriment of all.
“Since the announcement, through the NCS, Nigerians have spoken out, and they still do, that it is not economically expedient to ban the importation of vehicles through our land borders given the ramification of such a policy on the economy.
Senators who spoke on the issue, condemned the policy.
Immediate past Senate Leader, Ali Ndume said: “Let us not forget the fact that the Constitution says the primary responsibility of government is for the security and welfare of the people. This policy will render so many small businesses useless. My constituents are disturbing me to ensure that this policy is reversed.
“Why can’t Nigeria look at its policy to ensure that our laws are reformed? Senator Dino Melaye said, with the policy, it “is an admittance by Customs that they lack the capacity to mount our borders effectively. As a parliament, we must speak in the interest of the people. We should be seen to be defending the people we are representing here.”
Former Ebonyi State governor, Sam Egwu, said the policy is “an unpopular policy. This is a government that is supposed to bring change and succour to the people. But, they have brought hardship on the people.
“This Senate must stand with the people. We need to defend the people. This government should put on its thinking cap and come up with policies that are beneficial to the people.”
Chairman of the Committee on Works, Kabiru Gaya agreed that, although “this is our government, as legislators, we should speak the truth.
“By stopping importation through land borders, we are creating hardship. Other countries within West Africa region, have lower tariffs. We have to look at this issue.
“Let government man the borders and do the right thing. By this policy, we have created a new unemployment of over 500,000. This policy can increase in the states. We should reverse to the former policy. We should stop this policy.”
The committee headed by Senator Hope Uzodinma, is expected to report back within two weeks.
The Federal Government, recently rolled out new tariffs on imported goods and also placed a total ban on importation of vehicles through the land borders.
Since the policy was introduced, it has generated a mixed reaction, with majority of Nigerians, calling for a reversal of the policy. (The Sun)
Olalekan Adetayo and Leke Baiyewu
Twenty-four hours after the All Progressives Congress caucus in the Senate sacked Senator Ali Ndume as Majority Leader and replaced him with Senator Ahmed Lawan, a plot by the lawmakers to reclaim the seat of the Deputy Senate President emerged at the chamber during plenary on Wednesday.
Two members of the caucus specifically called on the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, to defect to the APC during the session.
Ndume, who also spoke on Order 43 to make personal explanations during the plenary, hinted that the APC caucus might be planning Ekweremadu’s ouster.
Ekweremadu is of the minority Peoples Democratic Party.
Senator Kabir Marafa (Zamfara Central), a prominent member of the pro-Lawan Senate Unity Forum, the group within the APC caucus loyal to the ruling party, had hinted on Tuesday that Ekweremadu should defect to the APC to retain his post.
He stated that the position of the Deputy Senate President belonged to the party with the majority.
Marafa recalled that the national leadership of the APC had written to Saraki, asking him to cede four positions in the Senate to the SUF members loyal to the party.
The positions are Deputy Senate President, Senate Leader, Chief Whip and Deputy Chief Whip.
All these positions, except the Deputy Senate President, are currently occupied by the APC lawmakers.
At the plenary on Wednesday, Marafa, while moving a motion for the adoption of the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday’s plenary, urged Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, to defect to the APC.
Seconding the motion, Senator Abdullahi Adamu (APC, Nasarawa West), similarly called on the Deputy Senate President to join the APC.
Reacting, Senator Sonni Ogbuoji (PDP, Ebonyi South), described the call for Ekweremadu’s defection as a joke, stating that the Deputy Senate President was not done with the PDP yet.
While putting the motion to a vote, Ekweremadu put the question that the votes and proceedings of Tuesday be adopted while “the other issue be duly removed.”
Ekweremadu (Enugu West), who was the Deputy Senate President in the 6th and 7th Senate when the PDP had the majority, had retained the position in the 8th Senate despite the APC being in the majority.
Marafa had told select journalists at the Senate on Tuesday, shortly after Ndume’s sacking, that the APC caucus might be moving to reclaim Ekweremadu’s post except the Deputy Senate President defected to the APC.
In what sounded like a warning on the move by the APC caucus to remove Ekweremadu, Ndume, while raising his point of order stressed, “I want to say that this Senate is an institution that we must protect. How do you protect the institution? It is to obey the rules and the tradition. If today, just like that, without telling somebody (about his offence) and he goes out; if it is Ndume today and it is (agreed to be) okay, it may be, God forbid, Ekweremadu tomorrow.”
But the Special Adviser to the Deputy President of the Senate, Mr. Uche Anichukwu, when contacted on the telephone on Wednesday night, said Ekweremadu would remain in the PDP.
“My boss remains a bonafide and committed member of the PDP,” he said.
The Deputy Senate President thanked the ex-Senate Leader for his service to the National Assembly after serving in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, in which he had headed critical committees.
Meanwhile, the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday said there was no truth in insinuations that he sacrificed Ndume, who was sacked as the Senate Majority Leader on Tuesday.
Saraki spoke with State House correspondents shortly after meeting behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said it was not correct to assume that there was a crisis in the Senate because of Ndume’s sacking.
“There is no crisis in the National Assembly. Things like this do happen and as you said, the institution is bigger than everybody.
“I am sure that he (Ndume) and everybody else will always work for the interest of the institution and for the interest of the country. Everything is calm, solid and fine,” he said. (Punchng.com)