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Nigerian Lawmakers, Police, Judges Are Most Corrupt —Transparency International, NASS Kicks |RN

Nigeria’s national assembly housing both the Senate and the House of the Representtatives

**National Assembly kicks

Transparency International has released a survey showing that the police, legislature and the judiciary are among the most corrupt institutions in Nigeria.

The TI, in the publication of the 10th edition of the Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) – Africa, on Thursday, said corruption in African countries was hindering economic, political and social development.

In Nigeria, the organisation partnered Practical Sampling International for the survey, sampling 1,600 people from April 26 to May 10, 2017.

The data showed that the police topped the list of most corrupt institutions in the country at 69 per cent, followed by ‘Members of Parliament’ (60) and local government officials (55).

Others were government officials (54), judges and magistrates (51), business executives (44), presidency (43), non-governmental organisations (40), traditional leaders (35) and religious leaders (20).

The survey indicated that 47 per cent public service users had paid a bribe to the police in the previous 12 months, while 44 per cent had contributed to overall bribery rate in that period.

Others were IDs (38), utilities (34), public schools (32), public clinics and health centres (20).

Asked if the government was doing a good or bad job of fighting corruption, 59 per cent indicated ‘good’, 40 per cent said ‘bad’ and one per cent said ‘don’t know.’

On whether ordinary people could make a difference in the fight against corruption, 54 per cent said ‘yes’, 41 per cent said ‘no’, four per cent said ‘neither yes nor no’, and one per cent did not know or refused to answer.

The survey added that 43 per cent thought corruption increased in the previous 12 months.

TI said, “Corruption is a major barrier to economic growth, good governance and basic freedoms, such as freedom of speech or citizens’ right to hold governments to account. More than this, corruption affects the wellbeing of individuals, families and communities.

“The 10th edition of the Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) – Africa reveals that, while most people in Africa feel corruption increased in their country, a majority also feel optimistic that they, as citizens, can make a difference in the fight against corruption.

“The report also found more than one in four people who accessed public services, such as health care and education, paid a bribe in the previous year. This is equivalent to approximately 130 million citizens in the 35 countries surveyed.”

According to TI, the survey is the largest, most detailed survey of citizens’ views on corruption and their direct experiences of bribery in Africa, incorporating the views of more than 47,000 citizens from 35 countries across Africa.”

In their separate reactions, groups including the Coalition Against Corruption, a Yoruba group, Afenifere, supported the TI, saying the report was a true reflection of Nigeria.

The founder/Chief Executive Officer of CACOL, Debo Adeniran, told one of our correspondents that the outcome of the survey was not surprising.

Adeniran stated that recent events in the judiciary and police had shown that the level of corruption in the country was alarming.

He said, “It is obvious; even from our experience, the police, the customs and the judiciary are the cesspools of procedural corruption in Nigeria. You don’t get anything free out of those institutions. We don’t need Transparency International to tell us.

The CACOL boss criticised the practices of policemen, who popularly declare that bail is free.

He added, “Just this week, the commissioner of police in Lagos says those policemen that take bribes before they grant bail are worse than kidnappers. We also know that they hold people hostage; they go raiding people without evidence that such people raided have committed any offence.

“They get them detained, asking them to call their relatives to bail them and that bail is like a ransom that they take for their hostages.

“When you look at customs, too, you can’t clear any goods, even officially, at the ports without greasing the palms of several customs officials. All the smuggling that has been experienced in Nigeria is with the connivance of these people and several companies are not paying excise duties because some of these customs officials have reached out to them to ask for gratification.”

The Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, also decried the level of corruption in the country, adding that the report was an accurate reflection of the reality of governance.

Odumakin said, “What that means is that the government in Nigeria is about corruption.

I think the report cannot be faulted because every now and then, we hear of stories of stealing and corruption from all these institutions but the bottom line is that corruption is the defining act of governance in Nigeria at the moment.

“After four years of fighting corruption, we are at number 44. That tells you how endemic and deep-rooted corruption is in Nigeria. It is the foundation and the building block on which everything rests and that is why we have to address it holistically in this country.”

Reacting to the TI report, Deputy Director, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability, Mr Kolawole Oludare, said the report confirmed that the fight against corruption had yet to be won in Nigeria.

He said, “This again confirms that the fight against corruption has yet to be won. This shouldn’t be an indictment though. More work needs to be done by all – government and citizens.”

But in their separate reactions, both chambers of the National Assembly faulted the report.

The House of Representatives dismissed the allegations as lacking details to prove the corruption claim. A member of the ad hoc committee on media and public affairs, Mr Bamidele Salam, who spoke to one of our correspondents on the telephone, argued that the TI report mentioned ‘parliament’ and not ‘National Assembly,’ stressing that state Houses of Assembly could also be referred to as ‘parliament.’

Salam, however, said, “We cannot take issue with TI, they are a respected organisation and they have their own methods and means of assessing institutions and organisations, some of which may not be very applicable to all systems. But I must say that wherever there are issues about corruption and transparency, they provide an opportunity for institutions to self-examine.

“So, if there are specifics that TI is bringing up – specific areas where they believe that there is no transparency or there are corrupt practices, then it will be easier for the parliament to look inwards and see what can be done to improve on its rating in that regard. In the absence of specifics, it will be difficult to just give a blanket judgment or comment about corruption. It is very easy to say that. And the specifics have to be measurable. They have to let us know what particular areas of the operations of the parliament have tendencies of corruption, so that we can then do internal assessment and if need be, cleanse it.”

The Chairman, Senate ad hoc commitee on media and public affairs, Senator Adedayo Adeyeye, said the report of the TI was based on perception.

He said the opinion did not represent the reality on the ground because no scientific investigation was carried out by the body before arriving at its conclusion.

He said, “The TI report was merely the opinion expressed by some people out of all population of over 200 million citizens of this country.

“They did not use any scientific method neither did they carry out any forensic investigation.”

He said the 9th Senate was doing everything possible to change the negative perception of the people towards the parliament.

He insisted that the parliament as an institution was not corrupt and that Nigerians would soon know the importance of parliamentarians through the 9th National Assembly.

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Rochas Okorocha Finally Sworn-in As Senator |The Republican News

Former governor of Imo state and a current senator , Rochas Okorocha

by Sunny Nzere

 

Former Governor of Imo state, Owelle Rochas Okorocha has been sworn in as the Senator representing Imo West Senatorial district at the Red Chambers.

The swearing in took place today at the National Assembly and was conducted by the clerk of the senate, Nelson Ayewoh after Okorocha had signed the required documents.

Okorocha who has been on loggerheads with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was on Tuesday issued his certificate of return as winner of the Imo West Senatorial Election.

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Ahmed Lawan Sworn-in As Senate President After Winning With “79 Votes” [Photos]

Ahmed Lawan becomes the new Senate President of the 9th Senate Assembly

The Senator representing Yobe North constituency, Ahmed Lawan, has won the leadership position of the ninth National Assembly.

The new Senate President taking oath of office
The new Senate President exchanges handshake

Senator Lawan defeated his opponent Ali-Ndume with 79 votes from the lawmakers, thereby making him the Senate President.

He now has the foremost right to the Senate’s gavel

107 senators cast their votes.

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JUST IN: APC Zones Deputy Senate President To South South |The Republican News

by Sunny Nzere

The ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, has adopted the Senator representing Delta central, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege as its candidate for the position of the Deputy Senate President in the ninth assembly.

The National Working Committee, (NWC) of the party also chooses Hon. Muhammed Idris of Bauchi state as the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.

National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Lanre Issa Onilu made this known in a statement in Monday after an emergency meeting of the NWC held in Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 of June.

He said the agreement was reached after a consultation with President Muhammadu Buhari, APC governors and party stake holders.

He said “The party formally adopts Senator Ovie Omo-Agege for the positions of Deputy Senate President and Hon. Muhammed Idris Wase as Deputy Speaker. This is sequel to wide consultations with President Muhammadu Buhari, party stakeholders, including APC governors.

“You would recall that the party had earlier announced the duo of Senator Ahmed Lawan and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila as the party’s candidates for the positions of Senate President and Speaker of House Representatives respectively.

“All elected APC members of the Senate and House of Representatives are hereby directed to fully mobilise as a united force behind the party’s choice.

“Members who have earlier signified interests in these positions are urged to support the party’s decisions as loyal and committed members of APC by working with other members to ensure the emergence of the adopted candidates.”

Chairman of the progressives governors and governor of Kebbi state, Atiku Bagudu, who spoke after the meeting said the party have also unanimously agreed to support Senator Ahmed Lawan and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila for senate president and Speaker of the House or Representatives respectively.

“We equally use the opportunity to deliberate on our support for the leadership of the National Assembly. The governors of the APC have always been unanimous in supporting the party leader, President Muhammadu Buhari and our party in ensuring that we achieve a common purpose,” he said.

“Towards that extent, we are all unanimous in our support for Senator Ahmed Lawan for the Senate presidency and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila for the Speaker of the House of Representatives and all governors are in agreement and we will work towards that purpose.”

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NASS Election Delay Meant To See The Exit of Oshiomhole |The Republican News

APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole

John Alechenu

The desire of the All Progressives Congress to go into the elections of a new leadership of the National Assembly as a united house has put on hold threats to the position of Adams Oshiomhole as National Chairman of the ruling party, SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt.

It was learnt that party leaders across geopolitical zones were reaching out to one another on the need to get aggrieved party members to “sheath their swords” in order not to give the opposition room to spring a surprise on the floors of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

A highly placed member of the party leadership, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said, “We are talking to ourselves.”
The party leader further stated, “We all agree that mistakes were made during the primaries leading up to the recently concluded 2019 general elections.

“We also agree that there is a need for us to come together and forge a way forward and that the letter, recently written by one of us, spoke the minds of some and angered some others because it was leaked to the press.

“However, we have National Assembly leadership elections in a little over one week and as a party, we cannot afford to lose these elections. In order to succeed, we must work as a team and present a common front.”

The source added, “The predominant view at the moment is that we cannot afford a distraction which a struggle for a change in the party’s leadership will certainly bring at this time.

“I cannot predict what may follow after the National Assembly leadership election matter is settled because whether you like it or not, we have lost three APC votes from Zamfara in the Senate.”

In a telephone interview with SUNDAY PUNCH, on Saturday, however, the APC National Vice Chairman (South-South), Hilliard Eta, said Oshiomhole’s position as national chairman was not under threat.

He said, “Our National Chairman’s position is not under threat. The letter written by our deputy national chairman (North) was a personal opinion which he, like every member of our party, is entitled to. If there was any decision we took as members of the National Working Committee which he was not comfortable with, the best thing for him to have done was to have resigned.

“After he resigns, then he can stand on a sound moral ground to call for another person’s resignation; this will make Nigerians take him seriously.”

In a related development, the Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, has said his open endorsement by a Peoples Democratic Party Senator-elect, Peter Nwaoboshi (Delta North), is a sign of greater things to come.

Lawan, who is the APC’s preferred candidate for the position of Senate President, said this while speaking to reporters in Abuja on Saturday.

While expressing appreciation for the endorsement, he said his campaign team would, within the next couple of days, hold further engagements with the PDP caucus among Senators-elect with a view to reaching an understanding.

He said, “We are expecting the PDP Senators-elect, all of them, to have an understanding with us and endorse me as a caucus.

“Let me pay tribute, first, to Senator Ifeanyi Ubah of the Yes Peoples Party. He identified with our aspirations the first day the idea of running for this office was muted and he has been with us. We have been campaigning together; sometimes he goes along to campaign to spread our vision for the 9th National Assembly.”

Speaking specifically about Nwaoboshi’s endorsement, he described it as a move borne out of a patriotic heart.

He said, “Nigerians don’t care about what platform you represent in the Senate. What they care about will be what the 9th Senate is able to do to better their lives. What Nigerians care for is an improvement in the security of their lives and property.

“What Nigerians care for is how the economy will be improved and revitalised so that it is an all-inclusive economy; an economy that will work for those at the lowest level of the ladder and those at the highest level, those who will create the business and those who need to be employed.”

The Senate Leader further explained that at various times, as a member of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, he had cause to support and campaign for Aminu Masari (now Katsina State governor) to become Speaker of the House of Representatives and Senator David Mark for Senate President.

This, he said, was not without prejudice to the fact that both men were members of the PDP.

He said, “In 2007 when I came to the Senate, I campaigned for Senator David Mark even though I was not in the PDP, (but) because I saw him as a distinguished man that will give us the kind of leadership we needed at that time.

“That would give us a sense of purpose, a direction and a focus as a Senate to perform; we did that again in 2011. Of course, then he was unopposed. It was in 2007 that there were rigorous campaigns and the elections were held transparently for everyone to see.” (Punch)

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UK Visit: PDP, SANs Fault Buhari’s Refusal To Write National Assembly, Handover Over To Osinbajo

Buhari lands in London

Olusola Fabiyi, Eniola Akinkuotu, John Ameh, Leke Baiyewu and Ade Adesomoju

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has described as illegal President Muhammadu Buhari’s ‘private visit’ to London and his refusal to inform the National Assembly.

Falana said this during an interview with SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday

The senior advocate said Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution stated expressly that whenever the President was travelling out of the country on vacation, he must transmit a letter to the National Assembly.

The activist said, “No doubt, the President is entitled to embark on local and foreign trips to attend the engagements of family members and friends like other citizens.

“But the President is not permitted by the constitution to abandon the enormous responsibilities of his office for 10 days on account of a private visit to the United Kingdom or any other country whatsoever.

“Since President Buhari’s current private visit to the UK for an undisclosed mission has made it impossible for him to preside over the meeting of the Federal Executive Council and perform other functions of his office, he should transmit a letter to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives in compliance with Section 145 (1) of the Constitution.”

He said as long as the President could not fully carry out the functions of his office, he ought to inform the legislative arm of government.

Falana stated, “Having regard to the facts and circumstances of the controversial private visit, President Buhari is deemed in law to be on vacation or leave of absence for 10 days.

“Whether the President is on vacation or not is not in dispute, but that he is unable to discharge the functions of his office for 10 days. To that extent, the President has to comply with Section 145 (1) of the Constitution which states that, ‘Whenever the President is proceeding on vacation or otherwise, unable to discharge the functions of his office, he shall transmit a written declaration to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to that effect, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, the Vice President shall perform the functions of the President as acting President’.”

He wondered why the Presidency refused to inform the nation of the President’s mission to the UK as Buhari remained the chief public officer.

Falana said, “The official claim that the President is not on vacation has failed to address the constitutional implications of the privacy of the visit of the Head of the Federal Government which is administered on the basis of accountability and transparency.

“Under the current democratic dispensation, the movement and activities of the No 1 Public Officer in the country cannot be shrouded in secrecy.”

Also, in an interview with SUNDAY PUNCH, another human rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome, said the President’s decision to travel out on a private visit was not only unconstitutional but immoral.

The senior advocate said the President, as the number one public office holder, had no right to embark on a private visit without informing Nigerians of the purpose of the visit.

He wondered why the President, who had been informing the National Assembly of his previous travels and had been delegating power to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo as acting President, would suddenly change.

He said, “The entire journey is not only illegal, it is also unconstitutional and immoral. It is immoral in the sense that the President travelled with the tax-payers’ money.

“The day the President was sworn in, he ceased to be a private citizen and he became a public figure whose public outings must be known, especially when he is outside Nigeria.

“The visit is illegal and unconstitutional because he did not transmit a letter to the Senate that till he returns, the Vice-President will be the acting President and perform the duties of the President.”

Also, another SAN and Queen’s Counsel, Prof. Fidelis Oditah, said although the trip might not be illegal, it violated constitutional provision that required the President to transfer power to the Vice-President whenever he was on vacation.

Oditah, whose QC title is the England’s equivalent of the Nigerian SAN, said the President’s “private” trip abroad qualified as a vacation.

He added, “How is the trip illegal? I think it is better to say that the President violated the provision of the constitution which requires him to transmit a letter to the National Assembly transmitting power to the Vice-President.

“I don’t know if that, by itself, makes the trip illegal. But I suppose it’s a matter of semantics.

“I think the Constitution is clear that whenever the President wishes to go on vacation, he is required to inform the National Assembly and to transmit a letter that he is transferring the reins of power to the Vice-President.

“I am not sure of what the President says he is doing, but if the President were to be on an official duty outside the country for five or six days, he would not be required to transmit a letter. But here he says he is making a private visit to the United Kingdom for 10 days, and I think that will count as a vacation, whether he says it is a vacation or not.”

But another Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Paul Ananaba, said the trip was not illegal, stating that every issue should not be politicised.

He said, “The trip is not illegal. Transmitting letter has to do with whether the Vice President should act or not. We should not politicise every issue in the country.

“Transmitting letter or not has to do with which role the Vice President will play when the President is on a foreign trip and not the illegality or otherwise of the trip.”

When contacted, the spokesperson for the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Organisation, Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN), said he was not competent to speak on the issue but the President’s spokespersons.

Expect more ‘I don’t care’ attitude from Buhari –PDP

In its own reaction to Buhari’s trip, the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, said Nigerians should expect more daring actions from the President in coming days.

It said this was one of the many reasons why the President and the All Progressives Congress were making moves to install their cronies as the heads of the two chambers of the 9th National Assembly.

The National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, who spoke with SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday, said the President and the APC were planning to undermine the 9th National Assembly.

Secondus stated, “We now see one of the reasons why the President and his party are desperate to force their cronies on both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

“The President wants a National Assembly that will not ask him questions. He wants a leadership that will pass bills as presented without subjecting them to public hearing and debate. The President wants to leave the country without anyone asking him his whereabouts.

“That will not be possible in a country like Nigeria. How will he leave for 10 days without informing the National Assembly and also hand over to the Vice President? This is wrong.”

Secondus asked Nigerians to get ready to confront the President in the coming days, wondering why he (Buhari) would not show commitment to end the killings in many states, including Katsina.

Buhari can rule from anywhere within short absence –Presidency

But the Presidency said on Saturday night that Buhari could govern the country from anywhere in the world.

It stated that so long as the President’s absence was for a short period, he did not need to inform the National Assembly.

The Presidency also said Buhari, while in the UK, was exercising authority as the President since his absence would be for 10 days and not up to 21 days.

In a response to an enquiry on the issue by Sunday PUNCH, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, made a reference to Section 145 (1)(2) of the 1999 Constitution to make a defence for Buhari.

When asked why Buhari did not inform the National Assembly of his trip, Shehu replied that it was not necessary.

He stated, “No, that is not necessary. The President can exercise authority from wherever he is as he is currently doing.

“This is a relatively short absence. If you check Section 145 (1) and (2) of the Constitution, you will see that the law is only infringed upon when such absence extends to 21 days.”

The President had jetted out of the country on Thursday, last week.

Meanwhile, both the presidential liaison officers in the National Assembly and officials in the offices of the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives could not confirm the transmission of a letter by Buhari notifying the legislature about his trip as of Saturday night.

When contacted on Saturday evening, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives), Mr Umar el-Yakub, declined to speak to one of our correspondents.

The SSA on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, also did not confirm transmission of the letter. “I will be able to speak about it on Monday. Right now, I’m home for family and political matters. When I return (to Abuja) I will officially speak next week; I will officially speak on Monday,” he said.

Also, the Special Adviser to the President of the Senate on Media and Publicity, Alhaji Yusuph Olaniyonu, could not confirm receipt of the letter by his principal as of Saturday night.

Olaniyonu, however, noted that the letter might have been transmitted to his principal after the plenary on Thursday and might be made public to members at the next sitting on Tuesday.

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Our Decision On Lawan Is Final, PDP Votes Unnecessary – Oshiomhole |RN

          National Chairman, All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole

Olalekan Adetayo and Sunday Aborisade

 

The ruling All Progressives Congress on Wednesday said only the decision on the party’s preferred candidate for the position of the Senate President for the 9th Assembly had been taken.

It said the zoning formula for the remaining positions in the Senate and those in the House of Representatives was still being worked out.

The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr Lanre Isa-Onilu, said this at a press conference at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja.

He said, “We have decided who will be the next Senate President according to what democratic principles allow and that person is Senator Ahmed Lawan.

“That has been done and announced, it is left for the party to cross the‘t’s and dot the ‘i’s to get that sorted out.

“My emphasis is on the fact that we are not going to share powers, including what the PDP people call juicy committees and we call strategic committees, with people that Nigerians have rejected. They are exclusive for the APC.

“We don’t need them to head any committee where they are going to compromise the promises we have made to Nigerians.

“Nigerians cannot give us a mandate and we will go and give part of it to those they have rejected. We cannot betray the people of this country and we will never do it. The zoning arrangement for all the other positions is in the works.

“Just as the media and Nigerians have been informed about who our preferred candidate for the Senate Presidency is, we will come out to tell you what the zoning formula will be for the remaining positions in the Senate and also in the House of Representatives very shortly.”

The party spokesman said the APC had decided to go beyond zoning to identify candidates who were fit for the positions.”

In reaching the decision, he said there was nationwide consultation among party leaders.

Isa-Onilu said the presidential system of government being practised in Nigeria encouraged the “winner to take all.”

This, he said, was the reason why the PDP would not be allowed to produce any leader in the National Assembly.

He said, “It is democracy. I have listened to the PDP and in their usual style, they exhibited gross ignorance. What we practise in Nigeria is called presidential system of government. In this type of government, it is winners take all. Once you win, you take whatever you want. There is no room for power sharing.

“We don’t need it because we don’t need them (the PDP) to run this government. We have enough number to run this government. In any case, when we were campaigning, we never told Nigerians that we were going to share power with any other party.

“What we told them was that they should entrust power to us. As it is clear that we have made good use of power in the last four years, we are going to make better use of it in the next four years.

“Nigerians accepted this. It will be a betrayal of that trust to go ahead and start sharing power with a party, particularly the PDP, that has been rejected by Nigerians.

“They were banking on the experience of the last four years when some traitors within the APC fold sold our birthright to an opposition party. Some people now took that to be the new norm. It is not. In fact, that action was not democratic. It was treachery. “

APC does not envisage election

The party spokesman also said the APC did not envisage any election on the floor of the National Assembly.

He said names of the preferred candidates would only be read to them.

He added, “We have enough number to elect all our officers. We don’t need a single vote from the PDP. In any case, we don’t actually envisage any election on that day because we are going to present our members that will occupy these positions.

“All our members are very experienced politicians who understand what this means. When we get to the floor, we are going to read out the names. If the PDP so desire, it can bring its candidates up. Since the party does not have the number, it will be an exercise in futility for the PDP to nurse the ambition to share from what Nigerians have taken away from them.

“There are positions for minority parties; the APC will not contest those positions with minority parties. They belong to them.”

Isa-Onilu said Senator Ali Ndume’s position on the party leadership endorsement of Lawan as the Senate president was not wrong, saying the dissenting senator was merely expressing his fundamental right.

He, however, said since he had signed to be a member of the APC, he must be ready to abide by the position of the party.

PDP senators will support Lawan – Senate spokesman

Meanwhile, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, has said senators elected on the platform of the PDP, will support Lawan to succeed as Senate President in the 9th National Assembly.

He also assured Nigerians that the decision of the APC to pick Lawan as its candidate for the office of the Senate President, would not lead to any crisis.

Lawan: Oshiomhole has APC’s leaders backing

Abdullahi, who is also the spokesperson for the APC senators canvassing support for Lawan, said the Senate Leader’s choice was not unilaterally done by an individual but was a collective decision of the party.

He said the APC leaders after due consultations only asked the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, to announce Lawan as the party’s candidate.

This, according to him, was contrary to claims by Senator Ali Ndume that Oshiomhole’s announcement did not have the backing of President Muhammadu Buhari and that of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

“I was at the dinner along with other APC senators-elect, the National Chairman of our party, Adams Oshiomhole, never made any announcement or submission that can be described by anybody as imposition.

“He said in the spirit of avoiding what happened in 2015, the party leadership along with the Presidency, gave the required direction for the party as regards the position of President of the 9th Senate in a very persuasive and convincing tone and recommended Senator Ahmed Lawan for the position.

“The recommendation was spontaneously and instantaneously applauded by all the APC senators-elect in attendance without anybody dissenting.

“So, for Senator Ndume to later tell a story of imposition and shock through his media briefing, is nothing but being economical with the truth,” he said.

I’ll contest deputy senate presidency, says Kalu

However, a former governor of Abia State, Uzor Kalu, has said he will contest the position of the deputy senate president in 9th National Assembly.

Kalu, who is also Abia North senator-elect, wanted the APC to zone the position to the South-East in the interest of equity and justice.

Speaking with journalists at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, on Wednesday, Kalu said he was aware that the APC, which had the majority in the Senate, had zoned the Senate President position to the North-East and the Deputy Senate President to the North-West.

He said, “I am a very loyal party man. The party has zoned the Senate presidency position to the North-East and I want to respect the party’s will. But the second position is what we are not going to allow to leave the South-East.

“So, as far as I am concerned, in the South-East, I am going to run openly on the floor of the house for the position of the Deputy Senate President.

“I am not going to listen to the party neither will I listen to anybody. Nobody that wants to be the Deputy Senate President is more loyal than I am to the party.”

Asked to react to the threat by Kalu’s position, Abdullahi said no APC senator-elect would go against the party on that day.

He said, “I don’t have the idea on what the party is doing on the position of the Deputy Senate Presidency. The party will ensure that a senator from each of the geopolitical zones benefit from the leadership positions, that is, two presiding officers and the four principal officers.”

He said Oshiomhole was correct for saying that the ruling party would take all the available leadership positions meant for the majority party in the Senate.

He said, “Oshiomhole was actually talking to those in the majority. The majority will have their way while the minority will have their say but the two must co-exist.

“Let me tell you very clearly that we have been engaging our colleagues in the PDP and I will tell you that majority of them are actually working for us to see that we have a harmonious, rancour-free, non-tumultuous Senate.

“Our colleagues in the PDP are not interested in any fight. We are engaging them and we are talking. They know the truth and I know that we shall work together and succeed together.”

Abdullahi ruled out the possibility of a repeat of the 2015 crisis on the day of inauguration.

Meanwhile, Isa-Onilu said the party could not help the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, who had been denied his certificate of return as a senator-elect because he was still on suspension.

He said the governor himself was aware of his suspension, hence, he had not reported his dilemma to the party.

He said, “This party cannot take any action. Don’t forget that Governor Okorocha is on suspension. As far as this party is concerned, that situation remains. He also has not come to us to say the situation he has because he also realised that he is on suspension.”

On the reported suspension of Senator Kabir Marafa, Isa-Onilu said it was within the powers of the party executive at the ward level to discipline errant members.

He added, “It is within the power of the party executives at the ward level, if they have good reasons to initiate punitive measures against a member they have considered to have flouted the rules of the party.

“In this case, we don’t have all the facts at the NWC. They don’t really need to come as far as this level before they can take that decision.”   (Punch)

 

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