The senate on Thursday confirmed Chibuke Amaechi, former Rivers state governor, as minister after a closed-door session that lasted more than an hour. The closed session was to consider the report of the committee on ethics, privileges and public petitions on an investigation of allegations of fraud against Amaechi.
Samuel Anyanwu, chairman of the committee, who presented the report, recommended that the former governor should not be confirmed as minister since the allegations against him were being challenged in court, and the senate could not act on a case that was in court. However, the All Progressives Congress (APC) senators challenged the recommendation of the report, saying that it should not interfere with confirmation of the nominee since he had not been charged or pronounced the guilty.
Ali Ndume, senate leader (APC), moved a motion that the senate proceed with the confirmation of the former governor. But his motion faced stiff resistance from Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senators who called for a suspension of the exercise. Speaking, George Sekibo (PDP Rivers east), who brought the petition against Amaechi before the senate, argued that there was a moral burden on the upper legislative chamber not to confirm Amaechi on the grounds that there were allegations of corruption against him.
But the APC senators pushed further their argument that the former governor should be confirmed. In the heat of verbal exchanges, the PDP senators, led by their leader, Godswill Akpabio, walked out of the chamber. The senate also rejected the report of the committee on Amaechi after the PDP senators had walked out.
Other ministerial nominees confirmed as ministers were Heineken Lokpobiri, Cladius Daramola, Adebayo Shittu, Shehuri Mustapha, Ocholi James, Adewole Folorunso, Bawa Bwari, Geoffrey Onyeama, Zainab Ahmed, Mansur Dan Ali, Usani Uguru, Okechukwu Enelamah, Anwuka Anthony, Musa Bello, Adamu Adamu, Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim and Aisha Abubakar.
In addition, last week, the screening of Amaechi had caused a row between PDP senators and those of the APC, as the report of the committee on ethics, privileges and public petitions on the investigation of Amaechi for alleged fraud was not debated before his screening.
Godswill Akpabio, senate minority leader, had raised a point of order, objecting to the screening of the nominee, but Ali Ndume, senate leader, countered his order, saying the exercise was a “confirmation hearing” and did not require debate on the report for it to begin. In protest, Akpabio thereafter said that PDP senators would keep mum during the exercise. Ndume also suggested that Amaechi should take a bow and go.
However, the senators resorted to shouting to express their disagreement, but the intervention of Senate President Bukola Saraki restored calm. The screening of Amaechi went on afterwards without hassles. Speaking with journalists briefly after leaving the chamber, Akpabio said the PDP senators walked out because they considered the confirmation of Amaechi as not being in conformity with the law. He said the opposition lawmakers called for a suspension of the confirmation of the nominee until the case against him was determined.
After confirming all 18 nominees as ministers, Senate President Bukola adjourned the senate to next Tuesday.(TheCable.ng)