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Senate Bows To Criticisms, Suspends Amendments Of CCB/CCT Law

Nigerian-senateTemper rose on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday as members of the red chamber wanted to consider in closed session, the report of the Ethics committee on the alleged non-parliamentary remarks of Senator Kabir Marafa, in an interview published in the Sunday PUNCH edition of February 7.

Trouble started when the senator representing Imo West Senatorial District, Hope Uzodinma, drew the attention of the presiding officer, Ike Ekweremadu, and the entire Senate to the 9th item on the Order Paper, which has to do with the consideration of report on Marafa.

Uzodinma said, “I have received a lot of calls from my constituents on issues perceived wrongly in this Senate and we represent the political class and we cannot shy away from this.

“From the Order Paper report on the Committee on Ethics, one of the issues is there. I want us to go into a closed-door session to discuss this issue.”

Ekweremadu then directed all visitors and journalists to leave the chamber and the gallery, since there was no objection to Uzodinma’s request.

The item on the Order Paper concerning Marafa issue had read, “That the Senate do consider the report of the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions in respect of a complaint from Senator Isah Misau (Bauchi Central) and two others, against Senator Kabir Marafa.

“This is over a publication in the Sunday PUNCH newspaper of February 7, 2016 for allegedly misleading the public against the Senate and the National Assembly.”

Investigations by our correspondent after the closed session revealed that the senators were sharply divided over the issue for more than 30 minutes until they finally agreed to drop the matter in the interest of peace, harmony and true reconciliation.

When the closed-door session ended, Ekweremadu said that members had agreed to suspend further legislative action on the bills meant to amend the Code of Conduct Bureau, the Tribunal and the Administration of Criminal Justice Acts.

The three bills, which had already passed second reading on the floor of the upper chamber, were intended to whittle down the powers of the Code of Conduct Tribunal in the discharge of their activities against corrupt officials.

Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, explained that the Senate also agreed to suspend deliberations on the report of the ethics committee on the alleged unparliamentary activities of Marafa.

He added that the senators unanimously resolved to stand by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, in his ongoing trial in line with global convention of an accused being innocent until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction.

He added that the senators in the executive session had also appealed to all members of the red chamber who had instituted certain court cases to consider withdrawing them forthwith in the spirit of true reconciliation.

Apart from this, Ekweremadu said the closed-door session agreed to set up a committee, made up of two members each from the six geopolitical zones, to deliberate on other issues that had divided the Senate since inauguration and how to resolve them.

Ekweremadu said, “After exhaustive deliberations and being sincere to ourselves, we have decided to put behind us all things that have divided us since the inception of the 8th Senate and work as a united Senate in the best interest of our country.

“We have decided to suspend the discussion of the Committee on Ethics report on Senator Marafa. We also agreed to suspend further deliberation on the amendment on the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act and the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, the amendment thereto.

Meanwhile, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, said on Wednesday that the upper chamber had rescinded its decision to invite the Chairman, Code of Conduct Tribunal, Mr. Danladi Umar, who was expected to appear before it today (Thursday).

Anyanwu, who stated this in an interview with our correspondent on Wednesday, explained that, CCT boss had written the Senate officially to plead for the extension of time.

He said, “We have received a letter from the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal that we should give him more time because he has a case he is currently handling and that the importance of the case would not allow him to honour the Senate invitation.

“We are a responsible institution who respects the views and opinions of Nigerians no matter their political affiliation.”

Anyanwu also said that the warrant of arrest against the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Lamorde, was suspended because the man went to court to secure an injunction restraining the Senate from ordering his bench warrant.



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