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Senate probes Buhari loyalists

•10 senators to face ethics committee

Fred Itua, Abuja

The Senate yesterday mandated its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, to investigate comments credited to Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and nine others.

Omo-Agege and nine senators had alleged that the re-ordering of the election sequence was done to target President Muhammadu Buhari, ahead of the 2019 general elections.

The other nine senators are Abdullahi Adamu, Abu Ibrahim, Benjamin Uwajumogu, Ali Wakil, Abdullahi Gumel, Binta Masi, Yahaya Abdullahi, Andrew Uchendu and Umaru Kurfi.

“When this bill was passed in the House of Representatives, only 36 members were present. This cannot stand in a House of 360 members. This amendment needs to be debated before it is passed.

“There is a section in our standing rules that if a bill is sent to the House of Representatives and it makes any inputs, the Senate shall dissolve into a committee of the whole.

“We are supposed to determine if the decision of the House is in tandem with what the Senate passed. That was not done.

“We are 59 senators who are opposed to Section 25 of the Electoral Act. We cannot stand and allow a law passed against Mr. President to stand,” Omo-Agege had alleged during a media parley.

Citing Order 14 of the Senate Standing Rules yesterday, Dino Melaye called on his colleagues to allow Samuel Anyanwu-led Ethics Committee to investigate the claims.

“I am heavily worried. President Buhari is not only my party man he is a president we all laboured to vote for. My colleague, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, addressed the media last week.

“He said the decision taken by this Senate is targeted at Buhari. I cannot be part of any group of persons to move against the President.

“The allegations are weighty. I followed President Buhari to 35 states of the federation during the campaigns.

“When I was following the President round the country, Omo-Agege was in the Labour Party.

“To now alleged and put the integrity of the Senate under check that the amendment was tailored towards the President is unheard of. It is in bad taste.

“I want to ask that this statement made by Omo-Agege, among other statements, be investigated by the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions.

“They need to find out if our actions were targeted at the President. Another interview was granted by the same senator.”

Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided, subjected the issue to a voice vote.

“He came under Order 14. If it is your wish that the issue be referred to the ethics committee, let those in support say ‘aye’,” Ekweremadu said.

In March 2017, Melaye raised a point of order against Ali Ndume. He was investigated within one week and was eventually suspended for six months.

If the ethics committee was able to establish that the claims made by Omo-Agege and nine others were false, the affected lawmakers might face suspension.

Last Wednesday, the proposed amendment of election sequence caused uproar on the floor of the Senate.

Senators loyal to Buhari disagreed sharply with the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, over the issue.

The House of Representatives, had in its amendments to the 2010 Electoral Act, included Section 25(1) into the act by re-ordering the sequence of the elections to start from that of the National Assembly.

This would be followed by the governorship and State Assembly elections before the presidential election.

It was against earlier sequence, rolled out by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), last year.

The INEC sequence had put presidential and National Assembly elections first before the governorship and State Assembly elections.

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