· Gives Buhari ultimatum to decide EFCC boss’ fate
· Admits buying bullet-proof SUV for N62.5m
The Senate has turned down President Muhammadu Buhari’s request to confirm 27 nominees as Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The Upper Chamber threatened on Tuesday that it would have nothing to do with the nominees’ list unless President Buhari takes appropriate action on the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
President Buhari had on Thursday last week sent names of the potential RECs to the Senate for confirmation. The President had reappointed eight of the RECs and picked 19 as fresh nominees.
But at yesterday’s plenary session, the Senate put on hold action on the confirmation of the RECs and gave Buhari two weeks to decide the fate of Magu before a smooth relationship with the Upper House could be re-established.
In a motion moved on the floor of the Senate, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (Delta Central), urged the Upper House to suspend the screening and confirmation of the INEC nominees until the Presidency decides on the fate of Magu whose nomination it has rejected.
The Senate also mandated Senate President Bukola Saraki to meet with President Buhari on the outcome of its resolution on Magu and report back to the chamber in two weeks.
Nwaoboshi’s motion came after the Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Na’Allah, read the item for consideration on the Order Paper, which was seconded by the Deputy Minority Leader, Senator Emmanuel Bachwa and was put to vote by Saraki.
Senator Nwaoboshi had recalled a statement by the Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Anti-Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, on the Senate’s rejection of Magu’s confirmation based on the Department of State Services (DSS) report that the Senate merely confirms.
He said: “This is unexpected of somebody who had lectured Constitutional Law in the university, a professor of law, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and of course, the chairman of such a body, to say that the legislature merely confirms and has no powers.”
“My position on this matter is that since our confirmation is ‘merely’, let us suspend it until we know whether we have the power as given to us by the constitution to look into confirmation matters or any other status”.
Senator Matthew Uroghide (Edo South), who backed Nwaoboshi’s comments, said that the Act establishing the agencies of government specified clearly that the officers of these agencies whose appointments will be made by the President have to be confirmed by the Senate.
Also, the Senate Deputy Whip, Sen. Francis Alimekhana (Edo North) lamented that since the rejection of Magu, he has been terrorising the Senate through the media and calling the lawmakers all sorts of names.
He said: “The EFCC chairman that we disqualified in this hall, is he acting? All the reports that are in the newspapers, he is behind them. Magu is terrorising us because we disqualified him and we cannot hide it.”
The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, noted that it was regrettable that the Presidency had decided to keep the Senate in the dark on matters that affect the integrity of the institution of the Senate.
He therefore urged Saraki to seek audience with President Buhari and register the resolution of the Senate on his handling of the Upper House’s resolutions.
Having listened to the arguments of his colleagues against the confirmation of the 27 INEC nominees, Saraki put it to voice vote and majority of the lawmakers voted against the confirmation of the RECs.
They demanded that Buhari should declare his stand on the Acting EFCC boss within two weeks after which it would decide whether to go ahead with the screening of the REC nominees.
Meanwhile, the Senate has refuted insinuations that it bought the controversial bullet-proof Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) Range Rover attached to Saraki for N298 million.