Why I Was Removed As Senate Leader – Senator Ali Ndume

Senator Ali Ndume from Borno State, who was removed as Senate Majority Leader on Tuesday, has revealed why he was ousted.

The president of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, announced Senator Ndume’s removal shortly before the upper legislative chamber adjourned on Tuesday.

Saraki read a letter from the All Progressives Congress caucus asking for leadership change.

Surprisingly, Senator Ndume had stepped out of the senate chamber to observe his early afternoon prayer when Saraki read the letter.

The APC caucus, Saraki said, also chose Senator Ahmed Lawan to replace Ndume.

Lawan was until his new role the chairman of Senate committee on Defence, a position he assumed after losing the June 2015 senate presidency battle to Saraki.

Speaking exclusively with Premium Times hours after his removal, Ndume said he was removed for insisting that the Senate did not follow the proper procedure before declaring that it had rejected the nomination of Ibrahim Magu as head of the EFCC.

Mr. Ndume said he insisted that in view of the Senate’s standard procedures and practice, Mr. Magu had not been rejected by the Senate because there was no confirmation hearing for the nominee to defend claims made against him.

“What I said was that for us (Senate) to claim to have rejected a nominee sent to us by the president, we have to follow the right procedure, and observe our rules,” the senator said.

“The nominee should have been called into the chamber and presented before senators who will then openly vote on whether to accept or reject his or her nomination.
“In the case of Magu, that was not done. We only had a closed-door session and when we emerged the Senate spokesperson claimed that he had been rejected . I had to set the record straight by saying we never rejected the nominee. This is because you don’t accept or reject a nominee at a closed session. Our votes and proceedings are there as evidence of my claims.”

Mr. Ndume said the clarification he made unsettled some of his colleagues, who immediately began to plot against him.

“I was surprised that such a simple and harmless clarification could rattle and anger some of my colleagues,” he said.

“I thought it wasn’t a big deal to disagree over issues. I didn’t realise that that simple matter would snowball into a plot to remove me.
“The other day, somebody mentioned to me that Senate President had commissioned Dino Melaye to collect signatures to remove me . I didn’t pay much attention to the information because I actually thought it was a joke or a rumour.
“I didn’t feel that disagreeing with colleagues, and sharing my understanding of what transpired at our closed session was an offence, grievous enough to cause my removal.”

$.1m Bribe: Lawan Opposes Admissibility Of Documents

Former member of the House of Representatives Farouk Lawan on Tuesday opposed the admissibility of several documents sought to be tendered by the prosecution in his trial over alleged bribery in a n FCT High Court.

Lawan, who is facing an amended three-count charge alone (Boniface Emenalo has been converted to witness), rejected the records of proceedings of the National Assembly on the fuel subsidy probe which Lawan was the committee ad-hoc chairman.

His counsel Sekop Zumka argued that the documents are not supported by the proof of evidence. He added that they were made after the commencement of the case to over reach the defence.

But counsel to the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC?), Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) asked the court to ignore the objection because the documents sought to be tendered are public documents commanded by the President after a court order.

Lawan was alleged to have in April, 2012 obtained the sum of $500, 000, in bribes from Otedola to remove his company Zenon Oil and Gas Ltd from companies indicted in the 2012 fuel subsidy fraud.

Justice Angela Otaluka has stood down the case for ruling.


Senate Crisis: Lawan, Akume, Others Boycott Senate Plenary As Ekweremadu Presides

The Senate yesterday witnessed another drama in the leadership contest between the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the ruling All Progressives Congress as Senator Ahmed Lawan, who contested the Senate Presidency seat against Senator Bukola Saraki at the inception, and his supporters boycotted the sitting, presided over by Deputy Senate President, Senator Ekweremadu.
For the first time since he emerged Deputy Senate President in the 8th Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, yesterday, presided over the plenary.


Unsatisfied that Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekwer­emadu, a member of the op­position Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presided over Wednesday’s plenary, Senator Ahmad Lawan and his supporters boycotted the sitting.


The Senate plenary, which usually begins shortly after 10:30am, was delayed up to 11:30am, following the ab­sence of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who was away at Aso Rock to attend the swearing-in of ministers by President Muhammadu Bu­hari.


Senators, who had turned up for the day’s sitting were seen loitering the Senate lob­by with a few of them already seated at the chamber, appar­ently waiting for Saraki to pre­side at plenary.


In his stead, the mantle fell on Ekweremadu, who is also a presiding officer.


A section of the APC, which has majority members in the chamber, were not happy and showed their displeasure by boycotting the session.


Wednesday, November 11 was the first time Ekwerema­du would preside at plenary since his election on June 9.


Immediately the Deputy Senate President mounted the seat, Chairman of the Com­mittee on Defence, Sena­tor Lawan and his loyalists, among who were the former governor of Benue State and Senator representing Benue North West, George Akume, and Senator Sulei­man Hunkuyi, representing Kaduna Central, refused to go inside the chamber.


Senators Lawan, Akume and Hunkuyi stood at the Sen­ate lobby for over 15 minutes and discussed among them­selves while plenary was on. They were joined by a few of their colleagues later.


Thereafter, the Senators re­tired to their personal offices.


Hunkuyi later told reporters that their action was predicat­ed on their belief that Ekwer­emadu, “a product of illegality cannot preside at plenary.


“I, personally will never at­tend any sitting of the Senate that is being presided by Sena­tor Ekweremadu because he is a product of illegality,” he reiterated to newsmen.


Later, Hunkuyi, in an un­signed press statement, tagged :”The conspiracy against the APC finally consummated,” accused Saraki of handing over the Senate leadership to the opposition PDP.


In a swift reaction, Chair­man of the Committee on Me­dia and Public Affairs, Aliyu Sabi Abdullah, denied that any conspiracy of any nature against Senators.


Credit : Daily Sun

NASS Crisis: Bukola Saraki Blocks Moves To Read APC’s Letter

The Senate on Wednesday rejected a move by some APC Senators to read the letter from the APC leadership recommending some senators to occupy specific principal officers of the senate. Gbenga Ashafa (APC-Lagos East), who relied on Order 15 of the Senate Standing Order, urged that the President of the Senate should read on the floor of the chamber the letter from the party.

“Yesterday, most of the media houses carried a letter that was written by the chairman of our great party, the APC. “We were expecting that that letter which has been received in your office will be read in order to see to the resolution of the party’s leadership tussle,” he said.

He backed the decision of the party leadership to recommend persons to occupy the other positions
exclusively preserved for the party. Quoting from Order 28 (1) he read: “There shall be a Majority Leader of the Senate.

The Majority Leader shall be a senator nominated from the party with the highest number of senators. “I believe that that letter should have been read to the hearing of all senators here present. Perhaps that will be the solution to the leadership tussle in the Senate,” he said. The APC National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, had in a letter dated June 23, recommended Senators to occupy the other principal positions.

The letter recommended Ahmed Lawan as Senate Leader; George Akume, Deputy Senate Leader; Olusola Adeyeye as Chief Whip; and Abu Ibrahim as Deputy Whip. However, Ibn Na’Allah (APC-Kebbi South) immediately countered the point of order and explained that the nomination should be made “from” the party not made “by” the party.

“By the ordinary principles of interpretation of documents that have been agreed by parties, the ordinary letters and words used must be given their effective meaning. “Order 28 used ‘from’, not ‘by’. What this seeks to do is to deter the minority party from nominating the Majority Leader,” he said.

The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, who presided over plenary, ruled Mr. Ashafa out of order and declined to read the said letter. He said: “I have listened to Senators Ashafa and Na’Allah. Going by the rules and what has been said earlier, I think I will just note what Senator Ashafa has said. “We will leave the matter as that and in that case, rule that out of order.” Another attempt was made by Kabir Marafa (APC-Zamfara Central) to question the June 9 election of Messrs. Saraki and Ekweremadu, but that too was ruled out of order by the President of the Senate.

Mr. Marafa, relying on Order 110 and 3 (e) (i), of the Senate Standing Order, sought to know which of the Order Books (2011 or 2015) was being used to coordinate the activities of the 8th Senate. He described the 2011 Senate Standing Order as ‘genuine and authentic’ thereby countering the authenticity of the Senate Standing Order 2015. “I am still referring to the events of the 9th of June, 2015, in this chamber. I have two Order Books and I am running into confusion, and I think there’s a need for the President to rule. “Which of the Order Books are we going to use to coordinate the activities of this Senate?’’ he asked.

Mr. Marafa insisted that there was a conflict in the two books as to the procedure that should be taken for election of presiding officers of the senate. Proffering explanation, the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, said that from 1999 till date, the Senate had come with its own rules. “There was Senate Rule of 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and now 2015.

The reason is quite simple. “If you look at Section 64 of the 1999 Constitution it says that the Senate and House of Representatives shall each stand dissolved at the expiration of a period of four years commencing from the date of the first sitting of the house. “So, the implication is that the rule he was referring to ended with the Senate on the 6th of June,” he said. The President of the Senate thereafter ruled Mr. Marafa out of order.

Source: NAN

Saraki, Lawan Groups Disagree On Senate Majority Leader

Leaders of the All Progressives Congress again on Monday failed to broker truce between its two rival groups in the Senate.

The latest peace effort was at the instance of the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun-led National Working Committee. The meeting held at Odigie-Oyegun’s private residence in Asokoro, Abuja on Monday.

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, were among the APC lawmakers who attended the meeting.

Although the meeting was not open to journalists, it was learnt that it provided the first real opportunity for the leaders of the two opposing groups to meet face to face since the June 9 National Assembly leadership elections.

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Reports Of Me Decamping To PDP Is Laughable And Absurd – Bukola Saraki

Senate President Bukola Saraki has described as absurd and laughable, rumors of him defecting to PDP from APC. In a statement he released today June 10th, Sen. Saraki said he left the PDP willingly and will not be going back there at this time when he’s already in a ruling party.

“The new Senate President also denies that he had a plan to decamp to the People’s Democratic Party, describing the insinuation as ” absurd and laughable.” According to him, “it is just cheap blackmail by political adversaries who want to call a dog a bad name in order to hang it. And those making such desperate allegations should remember that I willingly left the PDP on matters of principles when the party was in power. Is it now that the party is out of government and in opposition that I will now return having worked so hard for my party in the last general elections”.

Read the full statement below…

The Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has described President Muhammadu Buhari’s reaction to Tuesday’s election of National Assembly leaders as a “great mark of leadership” and a demonstration of the President’s commitment to democracy. In a statement issued by his media office on Wednesday, the Senate President commended President Buhari for remaining steadfast in his commitment to the principle of non-interference in National Assembly politics even in the face of great pressure on him to act otherwise. “This shows that Mr. President is a man of great conviction who, in his own words, belong to everyone and to no one,” the statement reads. In a similar vein, the new Senate President also denies that he had a plan to decamp to the People’s Democratic Party, describing the insinuation as ” absurd and laughable.” According to him, “it is just cheap blackmail by political adversaries who want to call a dog a bad name in order to hang it. And those making such desperate allegations should remember that I willingly left the PDP on matters of principles when the party was in power. Is it now that the party is out of government and in opposition that I will now return having worked so hard for my party in the last general elections,” he queried.

He stated his commitment to the All Progressives Congress (APC), saying he remains a loyal party member and a leader of the party, committed to contributing his quota to building the party and helping it to deliver its promise of change to Nigerian people. He urged all members of the National Assembly to put politicking behind them and settle down for the proper business of legislating. “Our country is going through a very trying times. We have the challenge of insecurity in the North East. The massive problem of youth unemployment and general economic challenges occasioned by the falling oil prices in the international market and the consequential fall in revenue. All these are coming against the huge public expectation that propelled our party into office. We have pursued our legitimate aspirations appropriately. Now that the issues have been settled, we need to move on in the larger interest of our people, without whose mandate we would not have been in a position to aspire to these positions in the first place.” The Senate President stated his readiness to embrace every member of the Senate regardless of his or her political leanings in the leadership elections just concluded.

Tinubu’s Wife Snubs Saraki, Lawan Takes Oath Of Office

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday administered oath of office and allegiance on Ahmad Lawan and 27 other All Progressives Congress senators who were absent at the formal inauguration of the Eighth Senate.

The  senators were gathered at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, waiting for President Muhammadu Buhari, who was billed to address them when the Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa, proclaimed the Eighth Senate and subsequently conducted the election.

The election, which had 23 APC senators in attendance, produced Saraki as president of the Senate, while Senator Ike Ekweremadu was elected his deputy. Saraki, after the election, administered oath of office and allegiance on 75 other senators.

However, the others, mainly members of the Senate Unity Forum, led by Senator Ahmad Lawan,  mobilised themselves to the chamber as early as 8:30am on Wednesday, waiting for the Senate president, to formally swear them in as senators.

The senators, after the votes and proceedings of the previous legislative day were adopted, took turn to take their oaths by reading it out aloud and append signatures.

By protocol,  each of the newly sworn-in senators were expected,  after taking their oaths,  to present a copy of their certificate to the Senate President and in turn, shake hands with him.

The protocol was duly followed by others except Senator Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central ), who refused to shake hands with Saraki, but merely showed him her certificate and walked out on the Senate President.


Lawan’s Bid For Senate Presidency Gets A Boost

Senators-elect under the aegis of the Unity Forum, penultimate Wednesday, formally informed the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) of their support for the Lawan-Akume Senate Presidency ticket, just as the party assured them that the extant Standing Order of the chamber will be adhered to in its final decision.

This was contained in a letter signed by Senators Barnabas Gemade, Abu Ibrahim, Olusola Adeyeye, Abdullahi Adamu and Bukar Abba Ibrahim with the signatures of their members attached and the group’s resolutions.

They resolved that “Senator Ahmed Lawan shall be the highest ranking APC Senator and George Akume the second highest ranking APC Senator in the 8th Assembly in the 8th Assembly. This is so, as Ahmad Lawan has spent 16 years in the National Assembly; eight years in the House of Representatives and another eight years in the Senate. Thus, Senator Ahmad Lawan is the most qualified to be the Senate President, while Senator George Akume is the most qualified to be the Deputy Senate President of the 8th Assembly in accordance with Rule 3 Order (2) of the Extant Senate Standing Orders.

“Nomination of senators to serve as presiding officers and appointments of principal officers and other officers of the Senate or on any Parliamentary delegations shall be in accordance with the ranking of senators. In determining ranking, the following Order shall apply-Senators retiring based on number of times re-elected; Senators who had been members of the House of Representatives; and Senators elected as Senators for the first time.”

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Senate Presidency: Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara Pledge Support For Saraki

Indications emerged at the weekend that senators from Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi states have resolved to vote for the former governor of Kwara State and leading aspirant in the race for senate presidency, Dr. Bukola Saraki.

This development indicate that Saraki’s support base has now been extended to the Northwest, Southeast, South South, South West, North Central and North East with more than 70 senators across the political parties rooting for him as the next senate president.

The lawmakers from the North West, it was gathered arrived at the decision to back Saraki as president of the eighth Senate during a meeting held in Sokoto on Thursday with all the newly elected and returning senators to the eighth Senate.

Meanwhile, a group of politicians and intelligentsia of northern ethnic minorities’ extraction, at the weekend called on the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its senators-elect to concede the Senate Presidency Senators Ahmed Lawan / George Akume.

The group which met in Kaduna to “consider the fate of minorities in the North under the new dispensation” urged the party to take cognisance of the contributions of the minorities in the three geopolitical zones of the north to the electoral successes recorded at the national and state elections and reward “us by conceding the Senate Presidency slot to Senators Ahmad Lawan and George Akume”

The group said, “It became incumbent on the new administration, the party in power and all senators-elect to support Ahmad Lawan from the Bade minority ethnic group of the north –east state of Yobe to become the Senate President and George Akume of the Tiv minority tribe of the north-central state of Benue to be the Deputy Senate President.”

Senate Presidency: 40 APC Senators-Elect, Others Endorse Lawan

Senate Unity Forum, the group supporting Ahmed Lawan for Senate President and George Akume as deputy, said it had the support of 40 senators-elect of All Progressives Congress (APC).

Leader of the group, Sen. Barnabas Gemade (APC Benue North-East), stated this during an interaction with journalists attached to the National Assembly on Wednesday in Abuja.

Gemade also claimed that the group had the support of the majority of the 49 senators of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He said that the group had found Lawan and Akume most qualified for the jobs which was why the senators decided to support them.

Gemade said that their candidacy would ensure stability and improvement which had been enshrined in the conduct of activities at the Senate in the last eight years. “We are happy to unveil to you that this is the plan that the Unity Forum and the 8th Senate have, and by the Grace of God, we will actualise the plan.

“We have 40 APC senators-elect that have keyed into this project. Other PDP senators-elect have also keyed in to this project. We are not publishing the list of all the senators because we know that a lot is being done; a lot of claims are being made, so it is not proper to join anyone in making any claims. The day we will give you the list, all those concerned will be present and you will match the list with the faces that will be present,” he said.

Gemade acknowledged that there were a lot of issues to be tackled in the 8th assembly and stressed that that was why the leadership of the National Assembly must lead by example.

Reacting to a list presented by another contender for the position, he said that a list with signature does not proof anything. He explained that the people whose names were on the list should have been there to answer for themselves. He said that when the group would bring out its list, it would not just flash it to the journalists but would give copies to them.

In his remark, Sen. Ahmed Lawan (APC Yobe North) assured that the 8th Senate under his leadership would ensure independence of the legislature. “We have had eight years of stability and I will like to build on that. There is need for consensus in the 8th Senate which is unique in the history of Nigeria with 59 APC senators and 49 PDP senators. The gap is narrow hence the need for consensus between the two sides. The National Assembly must never be a rubber stamp to the executive,” he said.

Lawan also said that he would work to cut down on the cost of governance, fight corruption and partner with other arms of government as well as the legislature in the states.

Credit: NAN

Senate Presidency: Lawan, Saraki Go Head To Head

The joint ticket of Senators Ahmad Lawan and George Akume for the Senate presidency is now gaining more support from senators of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as members of the Unity Forum have increased to 40.

The race for the presidency of the 8th Senate had narrowed down last Saturday to a straight fight between Lawan and Dr Bukola Saraki after Akume from the North Central and his supporters teamed up with Lawan from the North-East.

At a two-day retreat organised by the APC for its senators-elect, Akume was said to have agreed to take the ticket of deputy Senate president after consultations with his fellow senators and party leaders.

Reports gathered that the Unity Forum, under the chairmanship of Senator Barnabas Gemade, which forged a consensus in support of Lawan as Senate president and Akume as deputy, presently boasts of 40 members.

Investigation revealed that since the Lawan/Akume ticket was announced, some APC senators, who were undecided, have finally thrown in their hat in favour of the duo.

“Many senators-elect who were yet to make up their minds before our retreat have now come on board because of the ticket and our issues-based campaign,” a ranking senator-elect who spoke to this paper on condition of anonymity, noted.

He said the Lawan/Akume ticket for the Senate presidency race was recording more successes with 40 of them on board at the last count, adding that opposition leaders in the chamber were just as excited by the team.

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Senate Presidency: Akume Steps Down For Lawan, Saraki

At the end of a two-day retreat organised by the All Progressives Congress, APC,for Senators elected under the platform of the party, two major contenders for the Senate Presidency have emerged.

Former Governor of Kwara state, Bukola Saraki, who PREMIUM TIMES exclusively reported had the backing of 34 Senators as at the time the retreat began is still ahead of the chairman Senate committee on Public Accounts, Ahmed Lawan, from Yobe State.

Another contender, former Benue Governor, George Akume, has reportedly stepped down for Mr. Lawan in exchange for being selected as the Deputy Senate President.

Although the party did not formally address the press or issue a communique at the end of the retreat, two groups, “Like Mind Senators” and “Senate Unity Forum” separately addressed the press and declared their support for the two candidates.

The ‘like mind senators’ who said they are 35 in number out of the 59 APC Senators expressed their support for Mr. Saraki. The remaining 24 in the Senate Unity Forum expressed support for Mr. Lawan who is said to enjoy the support of APC national leader and former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu.

Senator-elect Dino Melaye, who address the press on behalf of the ‘Like Mind Senators’ displayed to the media a document he said contained the signatures of 35 Senators who have agreed to support Mr. Saraki.

Mr. Melaye’s address came shortly after the ‘Senate Unity Forum’ also addressed the media where it announced that Mr. Akume had stepped down for Mr. Lawan.

In the address by Mr. Melaye, he said “Of the 59 senators of the APC, 35 of us present here today hereby reaffirm our collective commitment and resolution to ensure that the candidature of Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki as the Senate President of the 8th Assembly.” He also said the deputy to Mr. Saraki would come from the north-east, although no name was mentioned for the position as consultations continue.

On their part, the Senate Unity Forum in their address read by former national chairman of the PDP, Barnabas Gemade, said they have adopted a joint ticket of Messrs. Lawan and Akume.

“We, the Senate Unity Forum, comprising of senators-elect from various states and zones of Nigeria, have met, held extensive discussions and resolved to support Senator Ahmad Lawan as Senate President and Senator George Akume as Deputy Senate President of the 8th Senate,” Mr. Gemade said.

With the positions taken by the two group, what is left is for them to lobby their colleagues from other parties especially the PDP. A lawmaker attending the retreat had informed PREMIUM TIMES Sunday that Mr. Saraki has the support of majority PDP senators-elect. He said the candidature of the former Kwara governor is being championed in the PDP group by Senators Andy Uba and Godswill Akpabio. Mr. Saraki defected from the PDP to the APC following the crisis of 2013 when five governors left the PDP for the APC.


Senate Presidency: South West APC Senators-Elect Queue Behind Lawan

The South West caucus of the All Progressives Congress in the Senate and the newly-elected senators from the geo-political zone, on Friday emerged from a marathon meeting with the agreement to adopt Senator Ahmad Lawan representing Yobe North, as their candidate for the Senate President position in the 8th National Assembly.

According to PUNCH, 12 out of the 13 newly elected senators met at a private residence in the Asokoro area of Abuja and adopted the Lawan, who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, as their preferred person for the job.

One of the senators, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the issue, said they argued before finally arriving at the conclusion to queue behind the Yobe senator.

He said, “The 12 senators-elect with the exemption of Mr. Tayo Alasoadura, who was unavoidably absent at the meeting, argued for hours but at the end of the day, we came up with the choice of Lawan.

“It was generally agreed that we will formally communicate our position to the leadership of the APC just as our colleagues in the North-West had already done”.

He said the only issue that the South-West senators-elect had against Lawan was his alleged closeness to the Peoples Democratic Party caucus in the Senate especially, the outgoing Senate President, David Mark, who they believe would have overwhelming influence on him if elected.

“Apart from being friendly with Mark, it was generally agreed that Lawan remained the best person for the job being a highly principled person”.

It was further learnt that the senators-elect pledged to seek the support of their PDP counterparts from the zone, to also vote for Lawan.

When contacted to confirm the development, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, Senator Ajayi Boroffice (Ondo North), said that the meeting actually held but denied the elected senators endorsed a particular candidate.

He said, “We agreed at the end of the meeting to support the decision of our party on the issue of zoning. Why should we adopt a contestant? What if the party leadership refused to zone senate presidency to his region?”