The Senate has postponed plenary till tomorrow due to the appearance of the Senate president, Bukola Saraki, at the Code of Conduct tribunal today.
Saraki is expected to appear at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) today in continuation of his trial following a 13-count charge for alleged falsification of assets declaration preferred against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau.
Though a statement issued by the acting clerk of the Senate, Nelson Ayewoh, did not state any reason for it, feelers from the leadership of the Senate lend credence to the fact that Saraki may have caused the rescheduling of plenary session as a result of his expected appearance before the Conduct Tribunal today, along with many of the senators.
The statement by the Senate acting clerk reads: “This is to inform all distinguished senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that the resumption of the Senate in plenary has been rescheduled from Wednesday, October 21, 2015, to Thursday October 22, 2015”.
With the postponement, the Senate will continue the screening of the remaining 16 nominees tomorrow.
Ministerial Screening: APC, PDP Senators on war path
Senators from both the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are poised for a showdown after the latter declared their opposition to the confirmation of former Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi, as a ministerial nominee.
Members of the Senate PDP caucus had yesterday declared their resolve not to support Amaechi’s nomination as a minister.
Speaking after a closed-door caucus meeting of PDP senators which held after the plenary yesterday, a senator who spoke on condition of anonymity said they were set “for war with members of the All Progressives Congress (APC)” over Amaechi’s confirmation.
He said PDP senators hinged their opposition to Amaechi on the constitutional requirement which stipulates that no minister indicted by any panel should be confirmed a minister of the Federal Republic.
Recalls that one of the two ministerial nominees screened yesterday, Shittu Adebayo, had reportedly been indicted by a panel for religious intolerance. He has, however, denied any complicity.
Politics is a game of numbers, APC is in charge – Dino Melaye
However, when contacted by Our reporter, the chairman, Senate Committee on Media, Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi), dismissed the threat of the PDP senators, saying that the APC had the numbers to decide Amaechi’s fate as his party is in charge .
“Politics is a game of numbers. We are in charge.”
Screening of Amaechi, Lokpobiri, others again deferred
The much awaited screening of the former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, again failed to hold at the Senate a week after the exercise began.
Of the first set of ministerial nominees sent by President Muhammadu Buhari on September 30 for Senate screening and confirmation, only Amaechi is yet to be screened. The other person left from the list, Adebayo Shittu from Oyo State, yesterday went through the screening process during plenary alongside Khadijat Bukar Ibrahim (Yobe State), whose name was on the second list. Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions failed to submit its report on the investigation of allegations against Amaechi to the House.
In an unusual occurrence, two Order Papers were published. The contained Amaechi’s name as one of those to be screened, the submission of the report of the Ethics and Privileges report on allegations against Amaechi and an exoneration of the nominee from Sokoto State was withdrawn and replaced with one without that information.
The withdrawn copy read in part, “That the Senate does consider the report of the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions on a petition by the Integrity Group, alleging cases of fraud against Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
“Similarly, ministerial nominees that were slated to appear before the Senate for screening included Mr. Adebayo Shittu (Oyo), Heineken Lokpobiri (Bayelsa), Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Khadija Abba Ibrahim (Yobe), Hon. Bawa Bwari (Niger), Mr. Ocholi Enojo James (Kogi), Mr. Mansur Muhammed (Zamfara) and Zainab Ahmed (Kaduna).
However, in the new Order Paper, only three names were listed: Mr. Adebayo Shittu (Oyo), Mrs Khadija Abba Ibrahim (Yobe) and Mr. Claudius Omoleye Daramola (Ondo). Daramola’s screening was deferred to the next legislative day (today).
Senate receives 10 petitions against Imo nominee
Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday received over 10 petitions against the ministerial nominee from Imo State, Professor Anthony Anwuka, through Senator Nneji Achonu Athanasius (PDP, Imo North). No name was given as the sponsors of the petitions.
The petitions were referred to the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions by the Senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who mandated the committee to submit its report for consideration during the next sitting.
However, the chairman of the committee, Senator Samuel Anyanwu (PDP, Imo West), begged for an extension of time for submission and promised to lay the report before the Senate on Thursday for consideration.
Earlier yesterday, some pro-Amaechi protesters had asked the Senate to look beyond “frivolous petitions” and confirm him a minister.
Saying he had done well in his last assignment as governor, they listed some of the projects the former governor executed in Rivers State, and contended that he would bring such quality of leadership to the federal level.
They called opposed to Amaechi’s confirmation enemies of Nigeria.