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Elections sequence takes new dimension in Senate

…Senators move to suspend Sen Omo- Agege
…Refer him to Privileges Committee over attack on Red Chamber
…I will defect to PDP if APC denies me ticket in Zamfara- Sen Marafa
For challenging the new sequence of elections which the Senate last week adopted for the 2019 polls, the Senate on Tuesday committed its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to investigate Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta) over comments he made considered as disparaging against the Senate.

Senator Dino Melaye had moved a motion to challenge Omo-Agege on the remarks he made against the Senate, while the Senate latched unto the motion to institute a probe against Omo-Agege.

Omo-Agege and nine other senators led by Senator Abdullahi Adamu (APC, Nasarawa West) had on Wednesday last week addressed the media, voicing their displeasure to the position taken by the Senate on re-ordering of elections for 2019.

At the briefing, Omo- Agege said the re-ordered sequence of elections by the Senate and by extension, the National Assembly was targeted against President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to the new sequence of elections which continues to generate controversies across the political spectrum of Nigeria, the Presidential election is slated last after that of the National Assembly and governorship/state assembly elections.

Omo-Agege said although he won his election in 2015 on the platform of Labour Party and not APC but as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it would be wrong for him to keep quiet when wrong things are being done.

He said: “When this bill was passed in the House of Representatives, only 36 members were present. This cannot stand in a House of 360 members. This amendment needs to be debated before it is passed.

“We are supposed to determine if the decision of the House is in tandem with what the Senate passed. That was not done. We cannot stand and allow a law passed against Mr. President to stand”, he said.

But Melaye, while presenting the motion, referred his colleagues to order 14 of the Senate standing rules, alluding to the alleged disparaging comment by Omo- Agege, requesting, however, that he should be made to face the Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions Committee to explain himself.

He said: “After the adoption of new sequence of elections in the Senate last week, Senator Omo- Agege has granted interviews to journalists alleging that the action was targeted against President Muhammadu Buhari.

“I cannot be part of any group of persons. I swore on oath on the 9th of June 2015. If decisions in this Senate is now being teleguided and targeted at any particular person, then that is no longer democracy. That statement to me is weighty.

“I personally campaigned and followed the President to 35 states of the federation. The only place I did not follow him to was Yobe where we did not even go throughout the campaign. When I was following Buhari to campaign to become the President of this country, Ovie Omo-Agege was labouring in the Labour Party.

“Today, to take the decision of the Senate, the integrity of the Senate put together, that it was tailored towards targeting a particular person, it is unheard of, and it is in bad taste. And I do not want to be part of that.

“I want to add that this statement was made by Omo-Agege among other statements that the Committee on Ethics and Privileges need to investigate this matter and find out if truly our decision was made and targeted at Mr. President among other issues raised by him”.

But when the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided, put Melaye’s prayer to voice votes, senators in support chorused overwhelmingly ‘ayes’ for adoption.

The Deputy Senate President therefore directed the committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to invite the senator for explanations and report back within two weeks.

Against this backdrop, Omo Agege faces suspension in the event that the Ethics and Privileges Committee headed by Senator Sam Anyanwu finds him guilty.

Senator Ali Ndume (APC Borno South) had earlier been sanctioned by the Senate with a 6-month suspension in March last year after the Committee found him guilty on allegations he raised against the Senate President on importation of bulletproof cars.

In a related development, the Senator representing Zamfara Central, Senator Kabiru Marafa, on Tuesday, indicated resolve to dump the the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) if he was frustrated to that effect by officials of the APC in his state.

Marafa has been having a running battle with the Zamfara State Governor Abdullaziz Yari, who he accused of negligence of duty, just as the ruling party in the state has been arrayed against him on his hard stance against the governor.

Marafa said he would be willing to defect to the PDP if the opposition party offers him either governorship or senatorial ticket in the build up to 2019 elections.

Marafa stated this on the floor of the Senate while contributing to a motion sponsored by Senator Tijani Yahaya Kaura on the killings that took place in Zurmi Local Government Area of Zamfara State.

He drew the attention of the Senate to lackadaisical attitude of Governor Yari, to the recent killings in the state.

Marafa also called for declaration of state of emergency for lack of security and vacuum created by what he described as the ineptitudeness of the state governor.

He said he was not worried of whatever could be the consequence of his constructive criticism of the state governor and the actions of the state government, even if it would jeopardise his political ambition in the next dispensation.

Marafa said he would not hesitate to jump into the ship of any party that shares his belief and can offer him a platform to realise his ambition should the APC deny him ticket for criticising the governor.

The Senate noted that cross border banditry has brought Nigeria’s frail security system to the limelight having triggered an orgy of violence in Zamfara State which left 39 people dead in Zurmi LGA on Wednesday, February 14, 2018.

It was noted that despite the notice and warnings to the law enforcement agencies on the impending attack by the state government 24 hours before the attack, no precaution was taken to avert the unfortunate event.

The Senate was concerned that hundreds of lives have been lost to such attacks in the state over the last four years and worried that the latest attack has caused fears across the state, especially around rural communities who have had similar experiences in the past and are helpless.

The Senate therefore urged the Federal Government to mount diplomatic pressure on Niger Republic and Chad to forestall criminals from using their territories to launch attack on Nigeria.

It also urged the federal government to direct the Nigerian Air Force to use air surveillance to identify the location of the armed banditry within the sparse forest and flush them out.

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