ONGOING: Protest at National Assembly over Ndume’s suspension by Senate

Thousands of protesters have blocked the entrance to the National Assembly in Abuja, demanding the immediate reinstatement of Ali Ndume, senator representing Borno south in the Senate.

Mr. Ndume was suspended last week by the Senate for triggering investigations into allegations of forgery against the senate president, Bukola Saraki, and Kogi senator, Dino Melaye.

News reports accused Mr. Saraki of importing a Range Rover SUV without paying appropriate import duty, and attempting to clear the vehicle with falsified papers.

Mr. Melaye was accused of falsely claiming to have graduated from Ahmadu Bello University.

The Senate dismissed both allegations, and sanctioned Mr. Ndume by suspending him for six months.

There have been moves by Borno politicians to get Mr. Ndume reinstated.

Protesters arrived the National Assembly gate early Tuesday, with placards lambasting Mr. Saraki and the Senate.

“Saraki is a curse”, one placard read.

Many of the protesters said they were natives of southern Borno, Mr. Ndume’s district, but mostly live in Mararaba and Masaka areas of Abuja.

A PREMIUM TIMES’ correspondent at the scene said the protesters did not immediately appear like the usual “rented crowd”.

“Removal of Ndume as senate leader was a necessary act”, says Oyegun

John Oyegun, national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), says the removal of Ali Ndume as senate leader was a “necessary act” that had to be done to unite the party in the upper legislative chamber.

On Tuesday, Bukola Saraki, senate president, announced that Ndume had been replaced as the senate leader with Lawan.

Speaking when he received Ahmed Lawan, the new senate leader, at the APC national secretariat on Monday, Oyegun said that with this development, the crisis in the party was over.

“It is important to mention that the former senate leader was not removed as a result of any misdeeds on his part or as a result of loss of confidence of his colleagues, but as a result of a necessary act that had to be done to reunite the senate,” the APC national chairman said.

“We appreciate the service that he rendered to the senate and the sacrifice that he has made is necessary for the national assembly, the party and for the nation to move ahead.

“The party will give you all the support and will work together and ensure that the things that need to be done are done to move this nation forward.”

Speaking with journalists later, Lawan said he did not know of an alleged plan to oust Ike Ekweremadu, deputy senate president, from his office.

“I don’t know about that. I have no idea,” he said when asked if his emergence was a threat to Ekweremadu.

“All l know is that my colleagues in the senate APC caucus held a meeting and decided that l should be made the senate leader and that happened Tuesday last week as you all know.

“We are looking forward to working together in a very brotherly and fraternal manner in the senate indeed with other senators from other political parties like the PDP and other parties. I don’t have any idea if anybody is trying to impeach someone in the senate.”


Source: The Cable

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.”

Senate Leader Ndume Seeks To Save Magu, Visits Buhari

The report of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), will decide if the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, will retain his job.

The Presidency had, in a statement on Sunday, said President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered the AGF to investigate all top government officials accused of corruption.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, in the statement, said any official found guilty of the allegations levelled against him or her would not escape prosecution.

“The attention of the Presidency has been drawn to a number of reports in the media, in which various accusations of corruption have been levelled against some top officials in the administration.

“In that regard, President Buhari has instructed the Attorney-General of the Federation to investigate the involvement of any top government officials accused of any wrong-doing. If any of them are liable, they will not escape prosecution,” the statement had read.

The Senate had, on Thursday last week, refused to confirm Magu as the EFCC chairman as requested by Buhari, citing a negative “security report” on the anti-graft agency’s boss by the Department of State Services.

The DSS, in the report, had said Magu had failed integrity test and would be unfit to drive the anti-graft fight of the government.

Besides Magu, other top government officials recently accused of corruption include the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal, and the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr. Abba Kyari.

It was gathered that Malami was expected to forward the reports on his investigations to the President in January, which would determine the fate of the government officials.

It was learnt that the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Ali Ndume; the National Security Adviser, Major Gen. Babagana Monguno; and a former Chairman of the EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, had been making moves to save Magu by reaching out to the President.

Findings, however, showed that the President had yet to take a final decision on the report of the DSS, which stated that Magu was not eligible for the post.

It was gathered that a private meeting between Buhari and Ndume on Monday was part of efforts to save the EFCC boss.

A reliable source, who was privy to the meeting, said that the President was keen on conducting an independent investigation into the allegations against Magu in the DSS report.

The source added that the findings of the investigation would determine if Magu would be dropped or not.

The source stated, “Ndume is very close to the President and one of his closest supporters. The Senate Leader’s visit to Buhari was private but Magu’s issue was raised.

“Ndume made the President to understand that there is a conspiracy against the man but the truth will always prevail and evil will never succeed over evil. Somebody must be there to do the job and it cannot be business as usual.

“Ndume told the President that the Senate had not rejected Magu. He also told the President that the content of the DSS report was not an indictment but mere allegations, the reason why the President ordered the Attorney-General of the Federation to conduct an investigation.”

But Ndume, in an interview with State House correspondents after the meeting with the president on Monday,  said there was no truth in the reports that the Senate  rejected the nomination of Magu as the EFCC chairman.

He said what the Senate had done was to step down Magu’s screening until issues surrounding the security report concerning him were cleared.

Ndume stated, “Let me say categorically that the Senate did not reject Ibrahim Magu as the chairman (of the EFCC).

“What happened was that we slated his confirmation for Thursday. Then, we had an issue of a letter from the Department of State Services that could not allow us to continue with the confirmation without further clarifications.

“So, we then concluded that since we have a letter that we cannot ignore, we cannot do the confirmation. So, it was not that we sat down to take a decision that we have rejected Ibrahim Magu. I want that to come out clearly.

When reminded that the Senate spokesperson said the Senate rejected Magu and would return the nomination to the President, Ndume said the position was not correct.

“I was part of the persons that wrote the short press statement which stated that the Senate cannot continue with the confirmation. It is different from saying that the Senate has rejected him. In fact, we have referred the other four nominees to the committee,” Ndume said.

Read More: punchng

I Should have Marketed Buhari’s Loan Request – Majority Leader, Ndume

Ali Ndume, the senate leader, says he ought to have marketed the loan request of President Muhammadu Buhari, which was rejected by the upper chamber of the national assembly.

The senate turned down the president’s request to borrow the sum of $29.96 billion from external sources.

But speaking with journalists at the national assembly complex, Ndume said he will appeal to his colleagues to take a second look at the proposal.

He said the proposal had some technical issues, but that they would be resolved.

“I’m going to appeal to my colleagues to see how we will bring the proposal back,” he said.

“I think there were some technical issues; it was supposed to go to the committee where it will be worked on, but unfortunately it didn’t happen.

“But we’ll look at it. But I can’t say when the representation of the? proposal will be.

“I had no idea the proposal would be rejected if I had an idea I would have marketed it.”

The senators kicked out the proposal without a debate

Senate Will Pass 2016 Budget Before End Of March– Ndume

Majority leader of the Senate, Ali Ndume, on Sunday, said the upper chamber of the National Assembly will strive to pass the 2016 budget before the end of March. Speaking during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Ndume gave March as the deadline for the implementation of the 2015 budget, saying it was even the desire of the Senate to pass the 2016 budget before that time. He disclaimed reports claiming that the Senate had suspended its passage indefinitely, but said February 25, 2016 “may not be feasible”.

He said it was the wish of the National Assembly to pass the budget five weeks before the expiration of the period set for the implementation of the 2015 budget, but that was impossible due to some errors. “We have not postponed it indefinitely; we are saying that with the developments that we are seeing as the time goes on, the 25th February deadline we gave ourselves may not be realistic,” he said.

“That is why we now said that going by this, it is not possible to say we will come back on 25th and say this is the budget; we are not saying that we have suspended it indefinitely. The reason we fixed 25th was to have a gap of five weeks.” He said the gap would have enabled the Senate fix whatever issues needed to be handled before the expiration of the March 31 deadline for the implementation of the 2015 budget.

Ndume said the leadership of the National Assembly had met with ministers to iron out the grey areas and make corrections to the contentious areas as well. He also said the Senate would ensure strict compliance with the implementation of the budget, saying once funds were available, the present administration would ensure thorough implementation of the budget.

Credit: DailyTimes

$2.1bn Arms Fraud: I Will Testify Against Dasuki And Others At ICC- Senator Ndume

Senate Majority leader, Senator Ali Ndume says he is willing to testify against former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki and all those indicted in the $2.1billion arms deal at the International Criminal Court, ICC. Ndume said this in an interview with Daily Trust, while applauding the efforts of human rights Lawyer, Femi Falana, who says he will be approaching ICC to try all those indicted in the fraud with charges of War crimes:

“As far as we are concerned, these people shared blood money. Borno elders have made our position known on this through a statement they issued. We stand by our elders’ statement, that anybody who shared from the money meant for the purchase of arms to fight Boko Haram, is part of the sect, or they are sponsors of the sect. There are classes of Boko Haram – the army of Boko Haram, the supporters of Boko Haram and the sponsors of Boko Haram. Those people that shared the money for the purchase of arms are part of Boko Haram. We are supporting the government in the investigation and recovery of the funds. In fact, we are saying the government should take the case to Hague. We are very glad that somebody in the person of Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has taken the case further by going to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Kudos to him. If need be, I’m willing to testify at the ICC against those who collected the money meant for the Boko Haram war. This is because I am a victim too. We stand by Falana and we are going to support him to pursue the case at the ICC. We are not surprised that Falana has taken the case further because he is always by the side of the oppressed”.

Ndume also rubbished claims by PDP members that the probe was a witch-hunt against its members

“Dasukigate is not a witch-hunt because it is a fact that they shared the money meant for the Boko Haram war. Is the money stolen or not? They stole the money and they must be prosecuted for it. It has gone beyond politics. Apart from Falana, the international community has commended the country for trying to recover the arms money. John Kerry in particular said they were in total support of Nigeria.”

Senate To Pass 2016 Budget In February- Ndume

Senate Leader Ali Ndume, yesterday, disclosed that the upper legislative chamber will likely pass the N6.08 trillion 2016 budget into law latest February.

Ndume also described a recent call by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), that the National Assembly should commence an impeachment process against President Muhammadu Buhari, on alleged involvement in the budget controversy as ‘a joker’.

Addressing Senate correspondents, Ndume reiterated that Senate would conclude and pass the 2016 budget before end of February, adding that lawmakers had planned to pass the budget on record time, but blamed the delay on recent misgivings about the document.

“We are targeting end of February to round off everything about the 2016 national budget.? If not for the talk about a missing budget, we would have gone far. But, we are still determined to pass the budget on time and that will be before the end of February,” he said.

On PDP’s call for the impeachment of Buhari, he asked rhetorically: “Did we kill the PDP for what they did to us in the last 16 years? The call for the impeachment of the president by the PDP is what they are supposed to do. They are in the opposition. Buhari is the kind of leader the country wants.

“His emergence is divine intervention. The game the PDP is playing is understandable. The budget is not missing.”

Last week, the PDP urged the National Assembly to commence an impeachment process against President Buhari over the alleged involvement of his aide, Senator Ita Enang in changing of figures in the 2016 budget earlier submitted to a joint session on December 22.

Speaking on the alleged missing budget, he re-echoed his earlier position that the budget was not missing, rather, the Senate committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions was mandated to carryout an integrity test on the two copies of the budget before the Red Chamber.

“?Not only that the budget was not missing, the budget cannot be missing. The budget comes in copies. The copy submitted by Mr. President cannot be missing. There are some issues that came later surrounding the budget.

“We told the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to find out what happened and they discovered that there were two versions. What the president submitted as a bill is still there. Nothing has changed.”

Credit: Sun

Senate Presidency: Group Wants North-Central’s Candidate

A youth group, Northern Nigerian Youth Council (NNYC) has appealed to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and senators to allow the North Central zone to produce the president of the 8th Senate.

In a press statement made available to LEADERSHIP yesterday, president of the group, Comrade Murtala Garba, said the contributions of the North Central zone to the victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2015 general election should be rewarded with the position.

It also noted that more than any region, APC leaders in the zone have gone extra miles to deliver a very strong Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) region to the APC.

Saying that the North Central is more deserving of the Senate top job, Garba explained that there are enough senators from the zone with the capacity to do the job.

“North Central is also blessed with senators that have the ability to control the massive personalities of 109 senators that have, without doubt, reached the zenith in their respective fields and callings,” he stated.

“Zoning political positions has become a necessary fact of life in Nigeria, so we, the Northern Nigeria Youth Council believe, the APC should first concentrate on that before individual qualifications are advanced,” he added.

“Accordingly, from the two main contending zones of North East and North Central, we are convinced that the position should go to North Central because it’s the right thing to do.

Ndume Wants APC To Zone Senate Presidency To Borno

Mohammed Ndume, a Borno State senator who won re-election March 28, has appealed to the All Progressives Congress to zone the Senate Presidency to his state.

Mr. Ndume, who made the call in Maiduguri on Tuesday, said this would ensure justice and fairness.
He said the gesture would help in drawing the needed world attention towards rebuilding the state which had suffered years of Boko Haram insurgency.

“I think that the North East deserves to get the Senate President slot because the region has suffered years of neglect from previous administrations in the country.

“Borno in particular is most suited because it has suffered years of marginalization,” Mr. Ndume said.
He said representatives from the state had not been considered for positions in the National Assembly since 1999.

“We have not been fortunate to preside over any office at the National Assembly since the return of democracy in 1999.

“Although Gombe got the slot of the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives some time, Borno and Yobe had never been considered,” Mr. Ndume said.

He said it was unfair for some senators in the North Central zone to aspire to the office of senate president.
“The North Central zone had had its share as the current senate president is from the zone. I think the North East deserves the seat this time around,” Mr. Ndume said.

He appealed to the military to double its efforts in searching for the 219 female students abducted by Boko Haram from Government Secondary School, Chibok, in 2014.

“We believe that the girls are kept somewhere alive by their abductors. The military must strive hard to rescue them to end the agony of their parents and the abductees,” the senator said

Source – Premium timesng