Embattled President of the Nigerian Senate, Bukola Saraki, who is facing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal over alleged corrupt practices, got a morale booster Tuesday as 83 of his colleagues gave him a stamp of approval.
The names of the senators said to have co-sponsored the motion were not read on the floor of the Senate.
But some senators protested the endorsement, saying the processes adopted in moving it were faulty and that the motion violated the upper chamber’s standing rule of not dabbling in matters before a court of law.
David Umaru (APC-Niger East), who read the vote-of-confidence motion, said the proposal was initially sponsored by 84 senators but that the Chairman, Senate Committee on Business and Rules, Babajide Omowarare (APC-Osun East) asked that his name be removed from the list.
In dissociating himself from the motion, Mr. Omoworare said, “Ordinarily, by virtue of my position as the Chairman, Commmittee on Business and Rules, I should have seen this motion before now.
“But it comes as matter of urgent public importance. My name is listed as number 11. Let me say that I don’t know how my name got into the list. I therefore say I am not part of it.”
In spite of the lawmaker’s protest, Mr. Umaru proceeded to move the motion.
He argued that the Nigerian Constitution guaranteed separation of powers and condemned what he described as the “ongoing unwarranted media embarrassment of the Senate and the Senate leadership”.
He urged Nigerians not to allow themselves be used to harass or intimidate the leadership of the Senate.
Supporting the motion, Sani Yerima (APC-Zamfara Central), said “we shall continue to support our leaders”.
According to him, the lawmakers’ right to choose their leadership should be respected.
He added that “anybody outside this chamber who wants to control the Senate should go and sleep”.
The motion was later passed by a voice vote.
But no sooner than that was done that the chamber descended into pandemonium.
Kabir Marafa, a staunch opponent of the embattled Senate President, was so incensed by the motion and the proceedings on the floor that his reaction almost disrupted the session.
He vociferously criticised the motion, arguing that it should not have been entertained in the first place.
Mr. Marafa wondered why issues surrounding Mr. Saraki’s corruption trial was entertained as a motion even while the matter was still pending in courts.
The Senate has a standing rule barring it from discussing matters pending in court.
For minutes, a visibly livid Mr. Marafa engaged Mr. Saraki in heated argument, with both lawmakers talking back at each other.
However, the duo of Senators Gbenga Ashafa and Sola Adeyeye saved the legislative body from what would have been another violent session.
They calmed Mr. Marafa down and then persuaded him to leave the chamber. They then escorted him out of the chamber.
The Nigerian government had last week, on the recommendation of the Code of Conduct Bureau, arranged Mr. Saraki before the Code of Coduct Tribunal over charges relating to false assets declaration and operation of foreign account while he served as governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011.
Mr. Saraki had said in his preliminary statement said he was arraigned and being persecuted because he emerged Senate President contrary to the wishes of his party.