Real reasons why senate moved against Osinbajo
By Ismail Mudashir
The comment by the acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, on the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, was not the real reason why the Senators drew a battle line with the acting President, Daily Trust on Sunday has reliably gathered.
High level sources at the Senate told our correspondent that three reasons considered as “unpardonable sins of the acting President” were responsible for the senators stance. Osinbajo’s comment on Magu, the sources said, was only used as a cover up to justify the hostile action.
The Senate, on Tuesday passed a resolution suspending all issues relating to confirmation of political appointees sent to it by the Presidency, until the chairman of the EFCC was removed.
The Senators also demanded the outright sack of Magu, withdrawal of the comment made by Osinbajo and respect for laws relating to confirmation.
The resolutions were passed after the acting President’s request for the confirmation of the Director-General of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission, Mr Lanre Gbajabiamila, was read on the floor of the Senate.
A Senator close to the leadership of the Senate said Federal Government’s appeal of the judgement of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in the asset declaration case against the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, was the main reason for the onslaught against the acting President.
Saraki was in June acquitted in the false and anticipatory declaration of assets case before the CCT.
The CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar, had on June 14 upheld the no-case submission which Saraki filed after the prosecution closed its case, clearing him of the 13-count charges bordering on corruption leveled against him.
But the Federal Government filed 11 grounds of appeal at the Appeal Court in Abuja, challenging the judgement of the tribunal.
The government is asking the appellate court to set aside the CCT judgment and order Saraki to open his defence.
Appealing the judgement by the Federal Government, according to the source, was responsible for the latest offensive against the acting President, as it was generally believed by the Senators that Osinbajo was behind it.
“The Appeal of the case laid the foundation for the fight. It is widely believed in the camp of the Senate President that the acting President was responsible for it. If the appeal is not withdrawn, the fight will not end,” the lawmaker who does not want to be named said.
He also said the ongoing bid to recall Senator Dino Melaye in Kogi West by members of his constituents was being considered as ploy to get at Saraki.
“We are of the view that the rate at which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is going about it, is because it’s being teleguided to do so by the Presidency. This is another ploy to get at the Senate President. As you know, Melaye is his (Saraki) top loyalist,” he said.
Reminded of the fight between Melaye and the Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, the lawmaker said, “You cannot know this more than me. I’m aware of it but the fight at the home front cannot make INEC to be all out to recall Melaye, no matter the influence of the governor in the commission. INEC is being controlled by the Federal Government.”
The third reason, according to the ranking Senator was the issue of the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, who he said was acting the script of the acting President “to abuse the National Assembly and shortchanged five out of the six geopolitical zones.”
“We are not happy with Osinbajo at all because he has refused to call Fashola to order. Fashola and him (Osinbajo) are only interested in pumping money to the South-West. Look at the Airport project. And it is only the Lagos/Ibadan road that is ongoing in the country. There is the feeling of sectionalism,” he said.
Another Senator who also corroborated this said the issue of impeachment was real and that the acting President had no support base in the National Assembly.
“If you look at it, the voices in support of it are more than those who are against it. Saraki has no opposition in the Senate now. If somebody like Marafa can come out and say Saraki should be the acting President, which opposition are you talking about again?
“If care is not taken, we are heading towards a serious problem because if they started collating signatures, the man will become a history. The House will not hesitate to concur with us. It’s going to be a one-way affair,” he said.
It was gathered that the issue of impeachment came up at an executive session of the Senate on Tuesday that preceded the resolution on Magu. At the session that lasted for about an hour, a Senator mooted the idea. Source at the meeting said the issue of Melaye was also discussed.
The source said: “A Senator brought the idea but let me be frank with you, it wasn’t the general opinion. In fact, it was a side comment.”
On resolution for the sack of Magu, he said: “If they refuse to sack Magu, we will look at the constitution and do the needful, the source said.
In a phone interview, the chairman of the Senate Commitee on Petroleum (Downstream), Senator Kabiru Marafa (APC, Zamfara), denied that there was anything to the resolution other than the acting President’s comment on Magu.
“As a Senator and on my honour, I know nothing underground to the resolution. Nobody has anything underground against anybody, to my knowledge. It’s purely because of the acting President’s comment on Magu, that’s all,” he said.
Clarifying his statement on Saraki during the debate on acting President’s comment, he said, “I stated it on a lighter note. This government is ours and I’m an APC member blood and soul. I’m solidly behind this government. Both the President and the acting President are my leaders. I respect their humility and honesty.
Contacted, the chairman of the Senate Commitee on Ethics, Privileges and Public petitions, Senator Samuel Anyanwu (PDP, Imo), who gave the Senate leadership 48 hours to act on Osinbajo said they are waiting for the decision of the Senate leadership on it.
Anyanwu who replied to a text message from our reporter said: “We are looking up to the leadership because they are yet to meet with the acting President.” Senator Anyanwu stated this on Friday night, 24 hours after Saraki met Osinbajo behind closed doors.
Several efforts to get the reaction of the Senate’s spokesperson, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, were not successful as his mobile phones were switched off as at the time of filing this report.
Our reporter recalls that this is the second time that the Senate would be suspending the confirmation of the President’s nominees over Magu. In March, it suspended the confirmation of 27 Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) over the same issues.
After many weeks, it screened the nominees. So Far, 15 out the nominees have been confirmed.
Source: Daily Trust