Plot To Rewrite Senate Standing Rules To Cover Lapses Committed By Saraki Uncovered
Amidst the controversy that greeted the emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki as the leader of the upper chamber of the National Assembly and his activities since assuming that position, a secret plan to print a new Order Book (Senate Standing Orders 2015) to cover some lapses committed by Senate President has been uncovered.
According to The Nation, the new rules book may be smuggled into the upper chamber without the approval of the Senate as required by Order 110.
The report added however that many senators, across party lines yesterday vowed to resist the plot, which they considered a desecration of the Upper Chamber.
The Senate leadership is believed to have realised that it erred on the constitution of the Standing Committees of the chamber.
Order 97 (1-57) specifies that the Senate should have 57 committees but without consultations and approval from senators, Dr. Saraki allegedly increased the number to 65 – an action considered unilateral and, therefore, undemocratic.
They have accused the leadership of allegedly trying to hide under the approval of Votes and Proceedings of November 4 to assume that the Order Book has been amended as an excuse to print a new Order Book.
Saraki, on November 4, announced the composition of 65 standing committees.
After the announcement, he adjourned the Senate till November 10 principally because he had a date to keep at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) trying him for alleged non-declaration of assets.
At the resumption of plenary on November 10, the Senate adopted the Votes and Proceedings of November 4, which covered the composition of the 65 standing committees.
But the suspicion trailing the composition of committees blew open immediately after the adoption of the Votes and Proceedings of the November 4.
To douse the tension, the plot to print a new Order Book was hatched.
Three senators confirmed the plot.
A high-ranking senator said: “I think Nigerians should be alerted that there is a plan to print a new Order Book to make up for some lapses committed by the President of the Senate. The Senate leadership has realised that it erred in unilaterally increasing the number of Senate Committees from 57 to 65.
“They are plotting to use the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday November 4 to assume that the Senate has approved the amendment of the Order Book. The amendment must be effected by the Senate and there is no record of such.
“Order 110(1-5) spells out in clear details how the Order Book can be amended. Nigerians should ask when did the 8th Senate decide to amend the Order Book. Where did the Senate President derive the authority to increase the Senate Committees from 57 to 65?
“If the Senate President wants to increase the number of committees, he has to go back to Order 110 and comply with it.
“We will not accept any backdoor amendment of the Order Book.”
Another senator said: “One of our colleagues has been raising alarm on a move to produce a new Order Book without the approval of the Senate. The plot had been on for a while but they are about to commit the illegal act.
“When we had issues with the forged rules used for the election of the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, said each Senate comes with its own Order Book and it is that Senate that will amend the existing one.
“But without the approval of the Senate, they are going ahead with a new Order Book. Those behind this plot should know that Order 1, like Section 1 of the 1999 Constitution, says all procedures must be in accordance with Order Book.
“Anything done outside Order Book is a nullity.
“A third ranking senator said: “Order 97(1-57) states clearly the list of committees of the Senate just like Section 31of the 1999 Constitution spells out the number of states, FCT and Local Government Areas in the country.
“Nobody has the right to increase or decrease by fiat. By increasing the Senate Committees from 57 to 65, it invalidates the whole process.”
When contacted, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi, said: “I am hearing this information from you. Which Rules Book or Order Book are you talking about? I am completely unaware of what you are saying.