Politics

Uproar in Senate as Godswill Akpabio, Ali Ndume Faceoff Gets Messier

• Chief Whip walks out on Akpabio two months after threatening ‘Drastic Action’ • Senators in shouting match over Akpabio’s mistakes • Akpabio threatens legal action against Abbo, says allegation reckless, childish, Barely 24 hours to the commencement of a retooling retreat for Senators, a fresh parliamentary mistake by President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, has thrown the..…CONTINUE.FULL.READING>>>

• Chief Whip walks out on Akpabio two months after threatening ‘Drastic Action’
• Senators in shouting match over Akpabio’s mistakes
• Akpabio threatens legal action against Abbo, says allegation reckless, childish,

Barely 24 hours to the commencement of a retooling retreat for Senators, a fresh parliamentary mistake by President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, has thrown the Red Chamber into another round of crisis, resulting in a shouting match on the floor yesterday and unraveling the crisis between two gladiators – Akpabio and the Senate’s Chief Whip, Ali Ndume.

The centre between the duo can no longer hold just four months after the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly, during which Ndume played a leading role in the emergence of Akpabio as the Senate President.

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Signs that all was not well between the two friends emerged two months ago when Ndume declared that some Senators were planning on taking drastic action against Akpabio for mistakenly disclosing that a ‘holiday allowance’ had been sent to senators’ bank accounts.

Yesterday, barely 10 minutes after commencement of plenary, Ndume raised point of order against a blunder committed by the Senate President, which he refused to correct. The error in reference was a motion moved by Senator Summaila Kawu (NNPP, Kano South), for a debate on the need for re-opening of Nigeria-Niger border, but without stating the title of the motion.

Ndume, citing order 51 of the Senate standing rules, requested the Senate President to allow for correction of any error made or observed in plenary.

“Mr. President, there are some things we do in this chamber that are against the rules. Nobody is too big to learn,” he said in disgust.

“This is the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guided by laws, rules and procedures. If in the course of proceedings at any session, errors are observed, they must be corrected before forging ahead with such proceeding,” he said.

But Akpabio wouldn’t have none of it as he quickly interrupted him, insisting that having ruled on issues raised, it cannot be revisited and consequently ruled Ndume out of order.

Senator Sunday Karimi (APC Kogi West), spiritedly attempted to sustain Ndume’s line of argument through another point of order but was also swiftly ruled out of order by the Senate President.

As the shouting match raged on, Deputy President of the Senate, Jibrin Barau, quickly rose to read order 16, and asked Senators to respect the rule that requires a substantive motion to be moved by any Senator for correction or review of earlier decision taken. It was immediately sustained by Akpabio.

Infuriated, Ndume by raising another point of order (Order 54) sought that correction of perceived error should be made. But without allowing Ndume to make full presentation of his argument, Akpabio ruled him out of order again.

Angered by Akpabio’s decision, Ndume packed his documents and stormed out of the chamber. In the midst of the uproar created by the scenario, Senators hurriedly went into a closed-door session. Ndume later returned after receiving a call that the Senate had moved into a closed session.

It will be recalled that Akpabio had before the Senate adjourned for its annual recess in August, told his colleagues that money had been sent to them to “enjoy” their holiday.

The Senate president, who forgot that the proceeding was being streamed live, began to address his colleagues before adjournment motion was moved at the end of the Senate’s ministerial screening.

The Senate President had said: “In order to enable all of us to enjoy our holidays, a token has been sent to our various accounts by the Clerk of the National Assembly.”

When he was immediately informed by his colleagues that he was speaking on live television, Akpabio quickly withdrew his comment and re-introduced another comment: “I withdraw that statement. In order to allow you to enjoy your holiday, the Senate President has sent prayers to your mailboxes to assist you to go on a safe journey and return.”

Akpabio’s comment was greeted by criticisms from Nigerians berating the senators for feeding fat on the nation’s treasury at a time masses were experiencing hardship over petrol subsidy removal and floating of the naira. The controversies forced some lawmakers to admit that it was only N2 million that was paid to them as leave allowance and not some outrageous amount.

Ndume had then blamed Akpabio’s public disclosure for the unwarranted attacks on lawmakers. The Borno ranking Senator clarified that the allowance was a standard practice for senators and criticised Akpabio for misrepresenting the situation, noting that such comments were unbecoming of an elder in the Senate.

“In fact, we are even planning to take a drastic action against him if he continues making unguarded statements and acting as if we are kids.”

Again, last week Thursday, Ndume slammed the Senate President for approving the passage of some executive bills without formal reading and seeking the input of other members, while expressing his displeasure over what he called a practice of rushing to pass bills on the floor of the Senate without following proper procedures.

He was talking about the need to always have two-third of Senators to support any bill seeking amendments to the Constitution before passing such bills.

He said: “Very sensitive bills are brought and are expected to be passed with the speed of light, which is not good for the country. Every senator here is supposed to be adequately informed; he does his research and makes a positive contribution, but in a situation where even money bills are brought and expected to be passed within two hours, it wouldn’t be better for the country. Sir, you are on the seat today; history will judge you that things like this are not good for this country.”

Responding to Ndume’s comment, Akpabio stated: “If the bills we pass are good for the country, history will judge me right. I don’t think we would come here to pass a bill that’s not good for the interest of Nigerians. So, your point of order is noted.”
THE embattled Senate President, yesterday, reacted to comments attributed to the sacked Senator Elisha Abbo, representing Adamawa North Senatorial, who alleged that the decision of the appellate court was influenced by Akpabio’s office.

The Senate President described the comment as reckless and childish, in a statement by his special assistant, M. O. Ubani. He also threatened legal action against the sacked senator if the statement is not immediately withdrawn.

In the statement, Akapio said: “Abbo’s allegation is reckless, defamatory and childish for it lacks proof and merit,” stressing that it is “defamation against the Senate President and by extension the National Assembly.

“He is requested to withdraw the statement immediately and apologise to both the Senate President and the Justices of the Court of Appeal, Abuja with wide publication in reputable newspapers and electronic media or risk measures that those two institutions may consider very appropriate in redressing this childish and thoughtless outburst.”

The statement also expressed disappointment and shock at Abbo’s allegation, stressing that as senator, he ought to have understood the elementary working of the three arms of government as stipulated by the Constitution.

The Senate President said he was neither a member of the panel that sat and gave the judgment against Abbo in the Appeal Court nor was there any member in the panel of the three justices that is related to him and wonders why Senator Abbo came to the conclusion that the Senate President influenced the judiciary in sacking him as a Senator.

“The legislature, which Senator Abbo was a member, should not and does not interfere with judicial decisions over cases they handle.”

According to him, “the court upheld the appeal of his opponent after reviewing the decision of the court below and sacked Senator Abbo after calculating the lawful votes both parties scored during the general election,” stressing that, “this was one of those rare occasions where the court in Nigeria has effectively interpreted Section 137 of the Electoral Act, 2022 after that innovative insertion during the last amendment.”

Akpabio explained that the court in arriving at its decision held that that the section, which provides that admissible documentary evidence that showed manifest irregularities on the face of the document for petitions on non-compliance should be given its literal interpretation by placing reliance on the document to give lawful judgment.

Also speaking, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to Akpabio, Eseme Eyiboh, countered Abbo’s claims and admonished him to look elsewhere for his tormentors.

“It is only a diseased and uninformed mind that will not believe that the outcome of any court proceeding is a function of the evaluation of facts and evidence within the province of the rule of law.

“It is uncharitable for Senator Abbo to pour his frustrations on Senator Akpabio or anyone else and his action betrays the bile he has for Senator Akpabio.

“Democracy is founded in the rule of law, so for anybody to accuse one of the strong agents of democracy and governance in the mould of Senator Akpabio, such an individual must be a monument of self-pity and his swansong a discordant escape from reality.”…CONTINUE.FULL.READING>>>

About the author

Bunady

JOLOWO BUNALAYEFA PIUS is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for BUNADY NEWSLITE GLOBAL ENTERPRISE (Bunady.com). He started his Blogging/Journalism career at God's Own Wireless Company 2012. He's a graduate of Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko Ondo State, with a major in History And International Studies. You can contact him for press events, advertisement promotions on Email: contact.bunady@gmail.com

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