Strong indications emerged, yesterday, that the alleged forgery case of 2015 Standing Order involving the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, has taken a different dimension as the Senate reportedly threatened President Muhammadu Buhari with impeachment.
Consequently, the executive session of the Senate went rowdy as it almost became a free for all between the chairman, Senate Committee on the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Dino Melaye (APC,Kogi West), and the Chairman, Committee on Women Affairs, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, APC, Lagos Central.
A similar situation was equally underway in the House of Representatives, where a row broke out over the amendment of the constitution to provide immunity for presiding officers of the National Assembly and state legislatures. The row was ignited following the decision of the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, to refer the issue to the Constitution Amendment Committee for deliberation, instead of being debated on the floor of the House.
Senate in closed-door session
The Senate Soon after resumption from its two weeks break, the Senate went into a closed door session which lasted for an hour to discuss, among others, how to move the red chambers forward, devoid of crisis. The meeting was designed to get senators with court cases against the Senate leadership to withdraw the cases and return peace to the Upper Chamber.
At the meeting, yesterday, the mood of well over 90 percent of the senators was to suspend those ‘ erring’ members in the Senate Unity Forum, SUF, who dragged the Senate President, Senator Saraki, his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and others to court over alleged forgery of the 2015 Senate Standing Order.
A senator, who spoke with Vanguard, said the mood of the Senate was to suspend those senators and for the upper chambers to prove the supremacy of the legislature and teach the Presidency and the executive a lesson that the National Assembly and the Senate, in particular, be left to carry out its legislative duties effectively without any interference.
According to the senator, the Upper Chamber resolved that there is no case of forgery of the Standing Orders and asked that those involved should withdraw the case from the court. The source told Vanguard that the move to suspend the senators was arrived at on Monday, preparatory to yesterday’s resumption.
According to the senator who pleaded anonymity, shortly after commencement of the executive session, some senators called on their colleagues, led by Senators Suleiman Hunkuyi (APC, Kaduna North) and Kabir Marafa (APC, Zamfara Central), to sheathe their swords and withdraw the petition that led to the criminal prosecution of Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu.
The senator said: “Senate resolved today (yesterday) to suspend those who dragged the Senate President and others to court over alleged forgery of the 2015 Standing Order. ‘’The Senate moved to suspend the erring senators and resolved that there was nothing like forgery. The mood of the Senate was to suspend them and 90 percent of the senators, both of PDP and APC, agreed to suspend them. Senators wanted to prove the supremacy of the legislature.
“Following their refusal to adhere strictly to the report of the senate Committee on Peace and Reconciliation, led by Senator James Manager (PDP, Delta South), there was a motion by Senator Dino Melaye that they should be suspended. Senator Manager’s report which urged senators in court to withdraw their lawsuits for the sake of peace and unity in the Senate, had also recommended that all factional groups in the Senate be disbanded forthwith.
Those billed for suspension, it was gathered, include Senators Abdullahi Adamu (APC, Nasarawa West); Suleiman Hunkuyi (APC, Kaduna North); Kabir Marafa (APC, Zamfara Central); Abu Ibrahim (APC, Katsina South), as well as other members of Senate Unity Forum, SUF.
According to the source, the executive session, which was chaired by Saraki, also reminded the Senate that a committee, led by former Senate President, David Mark, had been set up to “reconcile” members. Curiously, Mr. Mark stood and said he was not informed that he chaired such a committee and that he didn’t know any of the members. He was simply told to do his “work”.
Melaye, Tinubu in shouting match
According to the source, the shouting match between Senators Melaye and Tinubu ensued when the former called on the senators to fight the Presidency to a standstill and was said to have issued threats. It was at this point that Senator Tinubu asked Melaye why he should call for the suspension of the senators and confront the President.
Senator Tinubu was said to have warned the Senate to guard against being reduced to a kindergarten court where senators could just issue childish threats, and called on senators to close ranks and seek reconciliation among themselves.
That was when Melaye flew into a rage. “You can’t talk to me the way you talk to other people; you must respect yourself,’’ Melaye was said to have roared. (Vanguard)