OrderPaperToday – The National Assembly resumed from its Easter break into a mournful mood over the deaths of Sen. Bukar Mustapha and Hon. Buba Jubril in the Senate and House of Representatives respectively. Plenary was suspended on Tuesday and valedictory sessions were held in both chambers the next day, leaving only Thursday for some legislative work to be done. It was however, a mix of policies and politics as a senator was suspended, the presidency put on the spot, and payment of legal fees for the Abacha loot was suspended. Below are highlights of activities in the National Assembly this week:
Deaths and valedictory sessions…
Both chambers suspended plenary on Tuesday in honour of deceased colleagues, Sen. Mustapha Bukar and Hon. Buba Jubrin, who until his death, was deputy leader of the House of Representatives. The lawmakers subsequently dedicated the next day for valedictory sessions for their departed members. In the Senate, Sen. Godswill Akpabio prayed against reoccurrence of deaths in the National Assembly, while Sen. Dino Melaye warned politicians not be arrogant in power.
Osibanjo summoned as PDP Senator calls Buhari “incompetent”
The House of Representatives Committee on Emergency and Disaster Management has summoned Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo over the purported illegal suspension of directors at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). The directors are said to have been suspended by the agency’s Governing Council chaired by Osinbajo without following due process.
Also expected to appear are Ibrahim Magu, acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Winnifred Oyo-Ita, Head of Service of the Federation. The trio was summoned to explain their roles in the alleged illegal suspension of the directors. The suspended six officers at the hearing claimed they were suspended for kicking against some of the policies of Mustapha Maihaja, the Director-General of the agency.
Meanwhile in the Senate, Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia) caused a heated argument between himself and his APC colleagues when he called President Muhammadu Buhari “incompetent” in handling the affairs of the country. Abaribe’s statement was premised on Buhari’s remark in London where he blamed Late Libyan Leader, Muammar Gaddafi, for the alarming rate of violence in the country. The Senator Leader, Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe) cautioned him to retract his statements amidst shouts from Senator Abdullahi Gumel (APC, Jigawa). The PDP senator however resisted retracting his statement.
Senator suspended over elections sequence row…
Sen. Ovie Omo- Agege (APC, Delta) came under the wrath of the Senate over his remarks on the electoral act amendment bill. Omo-Agege canvassed the view that the bill which reordered the sequence of elections is targeted against President Muhammadu Buhari. He later withdrew his statement and apologized. That did not stop the Committee on Ethics and Privileges to continue a probe of the matter in spite of a court action by the embattled senator. The committee proposed a 181 legislative day suspension which was however toned down to 90 days on the condition that the senator withdraws the case from the court.
Saraki’s budget caution and Buhari’s nominees…
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki listed 20 committees which failed to submit their report on the 2018 budget in spite of deadlines given. The committees are Defence, Army, Airforce, Navy, Industry, FCT, State and Local Government, Culture and Tourism, Petroleum Downstream and Upstream. Others are, Niger Delta, SDG, Primary Healthcare and Communicable Diseases, Health, Capital Market, Tertiary institutions and TETFUND, FEMA, Works, Power, Corporation and Integration. It was not disclosed what would be the fate of the committees should they eventually succeed in further stalling the passage of the budget.
Meanwhile, President Buhari sent 26 names to the Senate for confirmation into certain public offices. Popular rights activist, Festus Okoye, was nominated as National Commissioner for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) representing South-east geo-political zone; two non-legal practitioners as members of Federal Judicial Service Commission (Abba Ali (Katsina-North west) and Mohammed Sagir (Niger-North central); and 23 others for the National Population Commission (NPC). In a related development, the Senate approved the nominations of 3 members into Niger Delta Development Commission as submitted by the President. They are to serve in the capacity of Non-Executive Directors.
Bickering over oil well as senate resolves on Offa robbery…
During the week, the red chamber called on the Army to set up an operating base in Kwara south senatorial district following a recent armed robbery attack on five deposit banks in Offa, Kwara state. It also called on the Inspector General of Police to ensure security measure are put in place to secure lives and properties as banks were urged to re-open branches. These resolutions were based on a motion raised by Sen. Rafiu Ibrahim (APC, Kwara).
In an ‘oily’ debate, Senators Chukwuka Utazi, Dino Melaye and Andy Uba were up in arms over the true owner of OPL 915, 916 and 917 which are situated around Enugu, Kogi and Anambra States. The Senate committee on Petroleum Upstream was mandated to investigate and submit a report on the matter.
Abacha loot payments and bickering of security agencies…
The House of Representatives on Thursday requested President Buhari to suspend the payment of six billion naira or any part thereof being demanded by some lawyers for recovery of Abacha loot pending investigation on the matter. The demand was sequel to a motion sponsored by Mr Mark Gbillah (APC, Benue) during plenary. In his lead debate, Mr. Gbillah revealed that Abubakar Malami, SAN, the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, had curiously engaged the services of Oladipo Okpeseyi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), and Temitope Adebayo for a fee of $16.9 Million (about N6billion), without due process in 2016. He hinted further that both Lawyers had worked for President Muhammadu Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), a legacy party of the All Progressive Congress (APC) when Malami was the legal adviser of CPC.
Meanwhile, as the Senate considered the report of the clash between the EFCC, NIA and DSS, which took place on the 21st of November 2017, senators took turns to criticize the incidence. According to the report by the ad hoc committee which investigated the matter, there is acrimony existing between the Chief Executive Officers of the agencies. The red chamber warned EFCC to have a clandestine approach when conducting its duties in order to preserve its institution’s integrity.