Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Nigerian Senators pass vote of confidence on embattled leader, Saraki

Nigerian senators on Tuesday passed a vote of confidence on the senate president, Bukola Saraki, seeking to shore up support for the embattled leader who is facing corruption charges.

Mr. Saraki was arraigned last week before the Code of Conduct Tribunal on a 13-count charge of alleged corruption and false declaration of assets.

He denied wrongdoing and said the trial was politically motivated.

The senate met Tuesday for the first time since Mr. Saraki appeared before the tribunal, and 83 senators co-sponsored a motion to give him a “vote of confidence”.

David Umar, Niger East, who read the motion, initially said it was sponsored by 84 Senators; nevertheless, the Chairman Senate Committee on Business and Rules, Babajide Omowarare, Osun East, asked that his name be removed from the list.

“Ordinarily by virtue of my position as the Chairman, Committee on Business and Rules, I should have seen this motion before now,” Mr. Omoworare said.

“But it comes as matter of urgent public importance. My name is listed as number eleven. Let me say that I don’t know how my name got into the list. I therefore say I am not part of it.”

Mr. Umar said the Nigerian Constitution guaranteed separation of powers.

He condemned the “ongoing unwarranted media embarrassment of the Senate and the Senate leadership”.

He urged Nigerians not allow themselves to be used to harass or intimidate the Senate leadership.

Supporting the motion, Sani Yerima, from Zamfara State, 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”.

Although the motion was passed with voice vote, Mr. Saraki was not left unchallenged as Kabir Marafa (Zamfara state), a staunch opponent of the embattled senate president, disrupted the session, asking that the motion be quashed.

He criticised the motion, arguing it should not be entertained in the first place as its subject was pending in court.

He engaged Mr. Saraki in a heated argument.

However, Gbenga Ashafa and Sola Adeyeye saved the legislative body from what was going to be a rancorous session.

They intervened and guided the irked Mr. Marafa out of the chamber.

Earlier, Mr. Saraki had said he was being tried because of his emergence as the Senate President, reiterating his position before the Code of Conduct Tribunal last week.

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