Suspected Boko Haram Sponsor Emerges Nigeria’s Senate Majority Leader
*…as violence continues in the House of Representatives over leadership
The violence in Nigeria’s House of Representatives continued for a second day on Thursday after members of the ruling All Progressives Congress, failed to agree on the sharing of leadership positions.
This is even as Senator Ali Ndume, who is standing trial over his alleged links with the extremist Islamic sect Boko Haram as the new Senate Majority Leader.
Boko Haram is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Nigerians as a result of an insurgency which has festered for over five years.
Senate President Bukola Saraki announced Ndume, a Senator from the troubled North East, as Leader alongside Bala Ibn Na’Allah as Deputy Leader and France Aimikhena as Deputy Whip, he was however silent on the position of Chief Whip.
Saraki who emerged against the wishes of his party leadership announced the new appointments which excluded his rivals who were the party’s preferred candidates for the positions.
He said the North East Senate caucus had endorsed and nominated Senator Ali Ndume as the Majority Leader; while the North West caucus adopted Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah as the Deputy Leader.
He also added that the South South caucus members according to their own letter adopted Senator France Alimikhena as the deputy whip.
He subsequently asked the Sergeant – at – Arms to lead the three principal officers to their respective seats and assume office immediately.
However, Senators from the South West Zone who were apparently acting on the instruction of an influential party figure a former provincial governor, Ahmed Tinubu refused to write a letter because they claimed that the party’s decision as contained in its letter, was sufficient.
Attempts by the senator representing Zamfara Central Senatorial District, Kabiru Marafa, to make the senate president read the letter from the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie – Oyegun, containing lists of the principal officers, was again, frustrated by Saraki
Marafa had cited Senate Standing Order 28 (1) and Constitution point of order Section 65, (1E), to drive home his arguments.
He said, “According to the provision, there should be a majority leader of the Senate who should be a senator nominated from the party with the highest number of senators.
“This point of order was raised yesterday and another colleague raised another point of order distinguishing between the word, from and by, which was used there. That is why I am joining it with order 65 (1d) of the constitution.
“It says subject to the provisions of section 66 of the constitution. A person shall be qualified for election as a member of the senate if he or she is a member of a political party and sponsored by the political party.
“Mr. President, there is a communication from the APC which is the party with the majority representatives in the senate. However, for reasons best known to you Mr. President, you declined to read it yesterday (Wednesday )
on the floor of the senate. When your attention was drawn to the communication from the party.
“The constitution provision just cited, clearly put the party ahead of any other caucus from anywhere. Therefore, if the communication from the party, can so be regarded, I suggest that you, Mr. President cannot read any communication from any caucus because there is no caucus that is bigger
than the political party.”
Marafa was however hackled by Senator Danjuma Goje ( Gombe Central ), who urged the senate president to disregard his submissions because the same issue raised by him had been ruled upon.
He said, “Senator Marafa raised the same order yesterday and the Senate President ruled that the issue had been discussed and should not be opened again. I don’t know why the issue is being reopened. This is contrary to the rules of the Senate.
“We are the highest law making institution in the country, if we cannot observe our rules, we don’t have rights to be making laws for the country.
Therefore I will like Mr. President to stand by the ruling of yesterday that the issue had been settled.
“Secondly, the issue of leadership within the chamber is our own responsibility as senators. We have been sponsored by political parties to come to the senate. Nobody or law says the chairman of the party should appoint the Senate President.
“The law clearly states that we, the senators should appoint our own leaders within the chambers. This is the first time this type of things will be happening in the senate since the return of democracy in 1999.
Caucuses have been nominating their leaders and I have been participating.”
Saraki, as expected, ruled Marafa out of order, stressing that he had concluded on the issue already at Wednesday sitting.
In a related development, violence erupted on the floor of the House of Representatives over a similar disagreement members of the House of Representatives took on one another in a physical fight over what some of them claimed was an attempt by the Speaker to announce names of individuals who were not the preferred choice of the ruling party’s hierarchy.
An APC member of the House of Representatives, Nasiru Sani Zangon Daura, issued
a press statement on the conflict which was shown on National Television.
The statement reads, “We are here on behalf of our colleagues of the APC House Caucus to explain to you the unfortunate occurrence during today’s plenary session.
“The action that occurred inside the chamber of the House of Representatives was in reaction to the illegal and unconstitutional action taken by Speaker Yakubu Dogara of the House of Representatives, an action in his usual tradition of total disregard to the wishes of the majority members of the APC Caucus, the Party itself and the spirit of the Party.
“We are aware of a letter sent by our Party, APC, dated 23rd June 2015, conveying the approval of the party’s principal officers vis a vis the APC House Leader, the APC Chief Whip, the APC Deputy House Leader and the APC Deputy Chief Whip for the House of Representatives.
“This letter by the Party is in compliance with the expressed wish and mandate of the Majority Members of the APC Caucus in the House of Representatives.”
Both chambers announced a recess for enable the feuding members get their acts together.