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9 Jun 2018

Major events as Senate closes for Sallah break

The Senate suspended its legislative activities for four weeks, but the week did not end without the usual drama that characterises its plenary.
Chambers of the Nigerian Senate used to illustrate the story.
In the outgoing week, the Senate threatened to use its constitutional power on the president if he fails to meet certain demands.

Below are some major events at the Senate last week:

Tuesday:

– The National Assembly threatened to invoke its constitutional power of checking President Muhammadu Buhari if he fails to accede to their demands.

The Chairman of the National Assembly, Bukola Saraki, read the resolutions of the lawmakers after a closed-door session which lasted about three hours on Tuesday.

The resolutions were on insecurity around the country, ongoing prosecution of lawmakers, disregard of National Assembly authority by the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, among others.

The lawmakers said they would not hesitate to invoke their constitutional powers if Mr Buhari fails to act.

– Mr Buhari wrote a letter to the Senate requesting the confirmation of Adamu Abdu-Kafarati as the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.

Mr Abdu-Kafarati was confirmed by the Senate two days later.

He was sworn-in as the Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court in September 2017.

Wednesday:

The Senate on Wednesday called on the Minister of Defence, Mansur Ali, to withdraw his statement calling for the suspension of the anti-grazing law in some states. The lawmakers said the enactment of the law is not the reason for the killings going on in several parts of Nigeria.

– The Senate confirmed four Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) commissioner nominees.

They are Monday Udo Tom (Akwa-Ibom), Attahiru Madami (Niger), Ahmed Mahmud (Zamfara) as Resident Electoral Commissioners and Festus Okoye (South-east Geo Political Zone) as National Electoral Commissioner.

It however rescinded its confirmation of Monday Tom as a Resident Electoral Commissioner for INEC on the grounds that there was a petition against him that was yet to be treated.

– The Senate called for an increase in tax payable on plastic bags and bottles to discourage their use.

It also called for the introduction of eco-friendly reusable bags.

The call came after the lawmakers deliberated a motion on the 2018 World Environmental Day sponsored by Rose Oko (PDP, Cross River North) and nine other senators.

– Mr Buhari wrote a letter to the Senate containing the draft of a deep offshore and inland basin production sharing contracts amendment bill 2018 for the consideration and passage by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

– The Senate resolved to look into a report by the international human rights organisation, Amnesty International, accusing Nigerian security forces of rape and domestic violence against women in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in Borno.

The lawmakers agreed to set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the allegations.

The resolution follows a motion by Shehu Sani (Kaduna-APC). Mr Sani, dissatisfied with the reaction of the Nigerian government to the report, asked the Senate re-open the issue for probe.

Thursday:

– The Senate debated the President Buhari’s declaration that June 12 would be Nigeria’s Democracy Day. The president also resolved to honour late Moshood Abiola, late Gani Fawehinmi and Babagana Kingibe.

Some senators like Eyinnaya Abaribe and Dino Melaye expressed opposition to the president’s declaration. Some other lawmakers, however, spoke in support.

– At the end of the debate, the Senate resolved to take President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration a step further by asking that the official results of the June 12,1993 presidential election be announced.

The June 12 election is considered one of the freest and fairest in Nigeria’s history. It is believed to have been won Mr Abiola and his running mate Mr Kingibe.

The election was annulled before final results were officially announced. Mr Abiola was eventually jailed by Sani Abacha, a military dictator, for seeking to actualise his mandate. He died in prison in 1998.

– The Senate, thereafter, adjourned its plenary for four weeks.

Senate plenary will not resume until Tuesday, July 3, Senate President Bukola Saraki announced on Thursday.

However, during the recess, committees may sit or continue their work.

Mr Saraki did not formally state any reason for the long break which will covers the period of the Islamic Eid-el-Fitri holiday.

The holiday celebrates the conclusion of 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting by Muslims during the Islamic month of Ramadan. The festival is expected to hold mid-June.

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