•Pick Wamakko as new chairman …As Buhari’s loyalist begs lawmakers
Fred Itua, Abuja
Senators of northern extraction under the aegis of the Northern Senators’ Forum (NSF), yesterday announced the sack of the chairman, Abdullahi Adamu.
In his place, they announced the appointment of Aliyu Wammako, former governor of Sokoto State.
Members of the forum, in a letter addressed to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, but read by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided, claimed that Adamu was sacked over the allegedmissing N70 million belonging to the forum.
The letter signed by Sen. Dino Melaye, publicity secretary of NSF, read: “This is to inform the Senate of the majority signatories of members of the Northern Senators Forum. We have removed Senator Abdullahi Adamu as chairman of the Northern Senators Forum for financial mismanagement and misadministration.
“We announce his replacement with Senator Aliyu Wamakko immediately. Find the attached names and signatories of members.”
Adamu who was the arrowhead of the group of 10 senators that briefed journalists last week Wednesday, as soon as the Senate adopted the election sequence, kicked against the move.
He specifically described the report on the re-ordering of elections as rash and rushed. He argued that an issue as sensitive as that ought to have been debated before it was passed by both chambers of the National Assembly.
He had said: “We are aggrieved with the process the so-called report was considered. It was rash. I spoke on the issue.
“I relied on some of the statues. We believe that the process was rushed. Yes, we may rely on existing statues of law.
“The strategic importance of the bill does not need to be rushed. The report that was circulated was not signed by the chairman and co-chairman of the conference committee.
“So many members of the committee did not sign. We need to know why they did not sign. I believe that the content of the bill is not fair.
“We need to be fair. Why the rush? We will all pass out one day. Why do we want to pass such a law? I will not be part of it.”
Briefing newsmen after plenary, Shehu Sani, who spoke on behalf of northern senators, alleged that the lawmaker mismanaged N70 million left in his care as chairman of the NSF.
Sani, making a sarcastic statement, said monkeys invaded the farm of executive members of NSF and carted away the N70 million.
He said the said amount was handed over to Adamu by the forum’s leadership of the Seventh Senate. Sani claimed that northern lawmakers, not satisfied with the handling of the funds, decided to replace Adamu with Wammako.
Sani said: “Abdullahi Adamu is a respected senator and an elder statesman. There are some things that some of my colleagues cannot say, but I am not used to holding back what is the truth. When we resumed as senators, Ahmad Lawan tendered the sum of N70 million to the 8th Senate.
“That is, that N70 million was the money gathered by northern senators from the 7th Senate. So it was handed over to the 8th senators from northern Nigeria.
“The rumours going round whether it is true or not, I do not know. But I believe most of the senators know it is the fact there were allegations that some monkeys raided the farm house of some of the executives in Northern Senators Forum and carted away some of these monies.
“I think this country is becoming a huge joke, first it was rodents that drove away the president and we have snake consuming about N36 million, and now you have monkeys.”
When newsmen visited the office of Adamu to get his reaction, he said he was going to react at the appropriate time.
Speaking with newsmen in his office, Melaye said: “The decision of the majority of the NSF is that they want to have a change of leadership and the allegations were investigated and found out to be true.
“There was a case of financial mismanagement and that monies were spent without the consent of members and the leadership was not contacted. The body is becoming moribund and ineffective.
“We are not doing the things that we are supposed to do. We need to inject some vibrancy into the forum and that many positions have been taken without consulting with the executive members of the forum.”
Meanwhile, 24 hours after the Senate mandated its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to investigate Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and nine others over statements credited to them on the adoption of a report on the re-ordering of election sequence, the Delta State-born lawmaker yesterday apologised.
Omo-Agege who offered the apology on the floor of the Senate was, however, told by the Ekweremadu to resolve the issue with the committee.
Relying on Order 54 of the Senate Standing Rules, Omo-Agege, admitted his comments were offensive. He said he was withdrawing the claims he made during the media parley.
In the said comments, he had claimed: “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. There is a section in our standing rules that if a bill is sent to the House of Representatives and it makes any inputs, the Senate shall dissolve into a committee of the whole.
“We are supposed to determine if the decision of the House is in tandem with what the Senate passed. That was not done.
“We are 59 senators who are opposed to Section 25 of the Electoral Act. We cannot stand and allow a law passed against Mr. President to stand.”
Similarly, Dino Melaye who moved the motion calling for the probe on Tuesday, said: “I am heavily worried. President Muhammadu Buhari is not only my party man.
“He is a president we all laboured to vote for. My colleague, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege addressed the media last week.
He said the decision taken by this Senate is targeted at President Buhari.
“I cannot be part of any group of persons to move against the President. The allegations are weighty.
“I followed Buhari to 35 states of the Federation during the campaigns. When I was following the President round the country, Omo-Agege was in the Labour Party.
“To now alleged and put the integrity of the Senate under check that the amendment was tailored towards the President is unheard of. It is in bad taste.
“I want to ask that this statement made by Omo-Agege, among other statements, be investigated by the committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions.
“They need to find out if our actions were targeted at the President. Another interview was granted by the same senator.”
Tendering his apology, Omo-Agege said: “Yesterday, I was not here. My colleague and my brother, Senator Dino Melaye brought a motion under privileges, which is in Order 15 of the Senate Standing Rules.
“Mr. President, I rose as a consequent on the debate on the sequence of elections in the Electoral Act Amendment, which was passed last week Wednesday.
“In the course of that debate and subsequent upon that, I addressed the media at the press centre.
“I made certain remarks during that interview which my attention has been drawn to. The comments are offensive, not just to Senator Dino Melaye, but to the entire Senate.
“I rise to apologise to the leadership and the entire Senate for those remarks. I take back whatever I said. Thank you Mr. President.”
Responding, Ekweremadu insisted that the embattled senator must, howeve, face the committee to clear his name.
He said: “He came under Order 53. In my views, it takes a lot of courage to do this.
“The matter has already been referred to the committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions.
“I urge the committee to quickly look into it so that we can have the report as quickly as possible. Then we will take a decision. Is that the wish of the Senate?”