The Senate, on Tuesday, renewed its face-off with the executive and threatened to sanction the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, if he fails to implement the resolutions of the Red Chamber.
The position of the Senate, followed the unveiling of a letter sent to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, urging the upper chamber to confirm Lanre Gbajabiamila as the substantive Director-General of the National Lottery Commission (NLC).
Lawmakers equally passed a resolution and re-enforced its earlier position that all nominees rejected by the Senate should be relieved of their duties, with a particular reference to the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu.
Senator Ahmed Yerima from Zamfara state raised Order 14 of the Senate Standing Rules. In his submissions, he argued that since the Acting President had already concluded that the Senate lacked the powers to confirm nominees, there was no need to acknowledge any letter from the executive on issues related to confirmation.
The Senate accordingly resolved that it will suspend any confirmation of nominees from the executive until issues relating to the power of the Senate to confirm are resolved.
It also resolved at plenary that the acting President must respect the constitution as it relates to the issue of confirmation.
Lawmakers equally re-enforced an earlier position that the EFCC boss, Magu, should be relieved of his seat.
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It also urged Osinbajo to withdraw a statement that the Senate does not have the powers to confirm nominees.
Saraki who presided over the day’s legislative business, while making his concluding remarks, warned Osinbajo to ensure that all resolutions passed by the Senate are implemented. He warned that there will be severe sanctions if they are not adhered to.
Saraki said: “This is a matter that we have to address and put behind us. As a society, we cannot pass laws and they will not be obeyed. These resolutions passed by the Senate must be adhered to by the Acting President or we will take appropriate actions.”
Yerima, had while raising the point of order, noted: “I want to draw the attention of the Senate to a statement credited to the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo that the Senate does not have the powers to confirm.
“I was surprised to see the Senate President read a letter from the same Acting President who said the Senate does not have the powers to confirm a nominee from the executive.
“I am raising this point of order to draw the attention of the Senate to this issue and urge that we suspend any further action on confirmation of any nominee until the isis resolved.”
Senator George Sekibo added his voice to the debate. He urged his colleagues to take a firm position and reject any attempts to weaken the National Assembly.
He said: “A careful look at what is happening will tell Nigerians that they are trying to indirectly take over our responsibilities. The main function of the National Assembly is to make laws. The clearing of nominees from the President is one of the major functions of the Senate.
“All the various laws made to establish agencies of the Federal Government state that we will confirm nominations into such bodies. When an Acting President says that the Senate has no powers to confirm, I wonder if he is familiar with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
“In a civilian democracy, there is nothing like an executive order. You cannot wake up and issue executive orders. You cannot also wake up and tell nominees to take over office. This goes contrary to the provisions of the constitution.
“The moment you are playing down on the constitution, then you are playing down on the integrity of the Nigerian people. If the Acting President said we do not have the powers to confirm and he is sending a name that we confirm, then what do we do? Senate should place a suspension on nomination until we determine whether we have the powers to confirm.”
Senator Isa Misau from Bauchi State, criticised what he described as the hypocrisy of the executive. He said the National Assembly is always blackmailed by the executive to do their bidding.
“This is a double standard or an Act of hypocrisy. It’s like they do not want this National Assembly to function properly. Sometimes, we associate corruption with only financial misappropriation. But there is also corruption in the area of appointments. When you appoint your friend into an office, it is corruption. We are here to serve the people.
“The National Assembly is being blackmailed. They have stormed the house of the Deputy President of the Senate and the house of the Appropriation committee chairman. They lied that it was the police that carried out the raid. But we know that it was the EFCC. It is time that we challenge the executive whenever they attack us.”
Senator Sam Anyanwu who heads Ethics committee of the Senate, issued a 48-hour ultimatum to Saraki to do something about the the Osinbajo’s statement. He said in the event that Saraki fails, he will move against him.
He said: “We must situate this issue. I am surprised that we still accept nomination in this country. We agreed that we will not take nominations again from the executive until certain things are resolved. We must take a stand. The leadership does not do anything about this issue within 48 hours, we will move against the leadership.”
Senator Dino Melaye who is currently fighting to fence off attempts by his constituents to recall, digressed when he made his contributions. He warned the executive to stop “playing blues and dance reggae.”
“There is a call on senators to serve Nigerians. It is time for us to tell the executive to stop playing blues and dance reggae. The executive must stop approbating powers to itself. This Republic that our founding fathers fought for. In this same chamber, we invited the Acting EFCC chairman. We invited him for a job interview and he failed. We rejected him.
“As I speak, Magu is still parading himself as EFCC chairman. Now, the same executive is sending a name for us to confirm. We confirmed RECs before we went on break. They have sworn-in some people and have refused to do same for others. This Senate leadership must act and take a position.
“It is time for the Senate to apply force. I am moving a motion that it becomes abominable for the Senate President to read another confirmation letter until the integrity of this Senate is respected by the executive.”
Senate Chief Whip, Senator Olusola Adeyeye, while adding his voice, insisted that the executive must obey the provisions of the constitution. He warned against attempts by the executive to destroy the institution of the Senate.
He said: “These are frightening times. This is because many Nigerians, including many of here put our lives on the line to ensure that we have democratic governance in Nigeria. We need to remind the republic that the difference between the military and a democratic regime, is the existence of the legislature.
“Every public servant is bound to obey every law of the republic. Nobody, not the President, vice or the Senate President has the right to disobey our laws. Whoever has problems with our laws should go to court and declare them null and void. Until that is done, every law of the law must be respected.
“I voted yes for Magu. But the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria voted no. I stand with the Nigerian Senate. I choose a strong institution. We should not allow our institutions to be weakened. I want to lend the whole of my being to the first realm of the estate which is the legislature. I pray that we assert the independence of the legislature and not as a sign of power mongering, but to show that this is not the government of strong individuals.”
Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who also spoke, said the executive must obey the contents of the constitution.
“Let me make it clear that this has nothing to do with the Director-General of Lottery Commission or Ibrahim Magu, but about our constitution. One of the features of the Senate is the power of confirmation. The framers of the constitution gave the power to the Senate.
“If the law says that an appointee requires confirmation, we must obey what the says. The executive must follow the provisions of the constitution,” Ekweremadu said.
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