LEWIS OBI 08173446632 sms only , [email protected]
THE irony cannot be lost to most Nigerians that the organization which now reminds us of military dictatorship is the National Assembly. The opposite was expected, but we are back to the Orwellian 1984 when freedom is slavery and truth is falsehood.
I read evidence of attempts to demonstrate a persecution complex by the leadership of the Senate. And it is not helping their case because when 87 senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria went with Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki to the Code of Conduct Tribunal, the Senate lost everyone’s respect as a democratic institution.
These senators went to the CCT for no other reason than to overawe the tribunal chairman. Until the tribunal decides no one is sure whether that show of power succeeded. But a power show it was, naked, undisguised. In a democracy it is hypocritical to subvert the rule of law, create problems of law and order, and still claim to be running a democracy.
The allegation that the Senate Standing Orders 2015 had been forged ought to be a simple case. It is either forged or not and the court should be trusted to handle issues like that. From what I read about the case, the difference in the standing orders of the last senate and the current one is that the former provided for open balloting and the latter prescribed secret balloting. The 2015 rule book was used in the election of the current leadership. The question was: who changed the rules? To amend the rules the Senate must be given notice of such amendment in writing to the Senate president.
The amendment would be printed, circulated to all members, considered and adopted as part of the Senate rules and must be supported by two-thirds of senate members. If the changes were made even before the 8th Senate was inaugurated that indicates something irregular. The police document on the case noted that “at the inauguration of the present senate, no standing orders had been made…The practice is that at inauguration the incoming senate uses the standing orders of the preceding Senate.
The immediate past (7th) Senate did not amend the 2011 Standing Orders… The present senate president was not in a position to have passed the 2015 Senate Standing Orders before his inauguration…The so-called 2015 Senate Standing Orders are forged.” There can be no doubt that something was amiss. It is without doubt that many members of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) were not too happy with the emergence of Dr. Saraki as senate president. Many more APC members are simply apoplectic with Deputy Senate President Ike Ekeweremade who emerged by default. So it is natural to attribute various disputations to that fact. But the forgery of an important state document or tampering with it without due process cannot be a minor matter. It is really hard for even the most sympathetic observer to join in the ‘stop-the-persecution’ bandwagon.
The Police had been called into the matter when it was clear that it might not be dismissed as a political storm in a tea cup. The Police team was led by a Deputy Inspector-General of Police Dan’Azumu Doma and was said to have interviewed some senators including former Senate President David Mark, his deputy Ekweremadu, former Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba, and former Chairman Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Ita Enang. Senators Suleiman Hunkuyi, Secretary of the Unity Forum who wrote the petition to the Police, Ahmad Lawan, Abdullahi Gumel, Kabiru Marafa, Gbenga Ashafa, Robert Boroffice and Abu Ibrahim, Babafemi Ojudu and Solomon Ewuga. The Clerk of the National Assembly Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa, his deputy, Mr. Ben Efeturi, the Secretary of the Directorate of Legal Services in the National Assembly, Mr. Daniel Adem and the Secretary of the Senate Committee on Business and Rules, Dr. Ogozy Nma.
All except the Deputy Clerk Efeturi denied knowledge of the amendments. Maikasuwa who presided over the election of the officers of the senate was quoted as saying that he did not refer to the Senate Standing Order/Rules but had used the normal procedures for the opening of a new parliament.
The Police report was fairly clear. The bureaucrats of the National Assembly did all they could to cover their back. Efeturi who is said to be the longest serving legislative bureaucrat is quoted as saying that “the Senate Standing Orders of 2003, 2007, and 2011 followed the same procedure as that of the 2015.” He also was quoted as saying that in parliament, amendment of Standing Orders is by practice and not necessarily by procedure (he must mean Nigerian parliaments) and that the ruling of the Senate President on June 24,2015 that the Senate Standing Orders of 2015 is authentic is final, relevant and cannot be challenged. He was said to have attached a copy of the debates of the Senate on Wednesday June 24 where the Senate President ruled that the Standing Order 2015 was the authentic Standing Orders of the 8th Senate. Dictatorial proclamations of the military did not sound more arbitrary than that.
It must have required a great deal of courage for the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice to vote for prosecution, given the likelihood of the interpretations. But Efeturi’s views seems to be a slight window into the workings of the NationalAssembly and why it so authoritarian in its views and conduct. Even if the Standing Orders were forged the Senate President’s ruling on it was “authentic…final, and cannot be challenged.” That’s why a great many Nigerians are beginning to fear that we are proceeding from a pseudo democracy into another kind of system which clearly is very different from democracy. Already the National Assembly is run like a secret cult. There is nothing like an opposition party.
All members united and are agreed on the same objectives which are wholly and entirely dedicated to their pecuniary benefits. Knowing that Nigerians are averse to protests they perpetrate enormities which would shock any other country in the world. Nigerians have no idea what happens in the National Assembly; and the Assembly continues to believe that even if they (Nigerians) do they are impotent to do anything about it. That cannot be democracy.