Committee report causes Senate rift

By Post Nigeria October 22, 2015 10:24

Committee report causes Senate rift

The Senate Majority Leader, Senator Ali Ndume has said that the Senate belongs to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC as a result, the Former Governor of Rivers State and ministerial nominee must be screened unhindered.

Ndume maintained that the opposition People Democratic Party, PDP, cannot disqualify Amaechi based on what he described as a triviality instead of the constitution.

Ndume boasted that the Senators will determine the fate of Amaechi and not the report of Senator Samuel Anyanwu-led Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions.

An anti-corruption body had petitioned the nomination of Amaechi for the position of minister over alleged corrupt practices while he was governor.

The group argued that Amaechi is yet clear his name over allegations of fraud concerning the sale of the State power plants and conversion of proceeds running into $302 million among others.

The Integrity Group, a Non-Governmental Organization, also sent a petition to EFCC to investigate Amaechi for the over N70bn stolen from the Rivers State Government.

This amount is separate from the N21bn which the PDP claimed Amaechi transferred from the Power Assets proceeds account of Access Bank to the accounts of three private companies with a 25 Trans-Amadi Road, Port Harcourt address.

Current Rivers Governor, Nyesom Wike accused Amaechi of sponsoring Buhari’s presidential campaign organization with billions of naira stolen from the Rivers State coffers.

Following the petition against his nomination, the senate had kept on deferring his screening, pending the final report from the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions.

See: Ministers: Lonely Amaechi gets Fulani Herdsmen support

While the APC senators have insisted on screening and confirming Amaechi for a ministerial appointment, the PDP Senators have not shifted grounds on the position they took on Tuesday to frustrate the screening of the former governor.

Ndume spoke amid strong indications, that PDP and APC senators will flex muscles over Amaechi’s screening.

According to a PDP Senator, who spoke with Vanguard, the report will be up for discussion and votes will be taken in support or against Amaechi being screened and cleared.

The senator noted that if the voting favours that Amaechi be screened as opposed to their collective decision, they would as a caucus stage a walk out and allow the APC senators do what they want to do.

On whether the PDP senators were aware that if the Senators failed to screen or reject Amaechi by October 29 upon the expiration of the 21 working-day constitutional deadline, the former governor would automatically become a minister, the Senator said “we will not allow that to happen” as PDP Senators.

      “The report of the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions will be laid and there will be voting on whether or not to accept that Amaechi be screened.

“The voting will determine the way forward and if the voting says he should be screened because APC wants and PDP as a caucus thinks we should not screen Amaechi and if the APC insists, PDP Senators will stage a walk out.”

Another PDP Senator, who spoke with Vanguard, said that the issue has to do with 21 working days which is like a month, adding that the position of PDP Senators is about the law and the society, adding that the National Assembly is a theatre of politics, but as lawmakers, they must be cautious.

According to the Senator, the PDP senators were standing on Section 66(h) which stipulates that when indicted by a panel, the person cannot occupy any public office.

Section 66(h) says: “No person shall be qualified for Membership of National Assembly and Right of attendance if he has been indicted for embezzlement or fraud by a judicial Commission of Inquiry or an Administrative Panel of Inquiry or a Tribunal set up under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act…”

The PDP senators are also citing section 53(5) of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 as Amended on why they will work against the clearance of Amaechi.

Section 53(5) of Senate Standing Orders 2015 As Amended reads: “Reference shall not be made to any matter on which a judicial decision is pending, in such a way as might in the opinion of the President of the Senate prejudice the interest of parties thereto.”

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