IGBEKE: MARK BOWS TO PRESSURE, ORDERS EMODI TO STAY AWAY
Mounting pressures from within and outside the Senate at the weekend may have forced the leadership to direct Senator Joy Emodi to stay away from the upper chamber of the National Assembly pending the determination of the Notice of Appeal she filed at the Supreme Court last week challenging the ruling of the Court of Appeal over her election.
Daily Sun gathered that some PDP Senators who were obviously becoming more and more embarrassed by the continuous stay of Senator Emodi in the Senate and the refusal of Senate President David Mark to swear in Hon. Alphonsus Igbeke met the leadership to express their misgivings over the matter, saying that the Senate as a lawmaking institution must not be seen to be disrespecting the order of the Court.
This was coming on the heels of planned protest by members of the opposition party in the Senate tomorrow to compel the President of the Senate to swear in Igbeke or they would review their continuous participation of the activities of the Senate under the leadership of Senator David Mark who they noted was also a beneficiary of the judicial process.
Former governor of Yobe State, Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim had last week vowed to lead a protest against the Senate President for his refusal to swear in an ANPP Senator, saying that had it been that it was the other way round, he would have rushed ahead of time to swear in a PDP Senator.
'It is part of the plot to have a one party state and we are saying that there must be an opposition in the country to check the excesses of the ruling PDP; if not, they would end up destroying Nigeria. We shall continue to challenge them until the proper thing is done,' Senator Ibrahim had said.
However, the Senate leadership through its spokesman, Senator Ayogu Eze said it was guided by it Rules particularly section 53 (5) which states that when a judicial decision is pending on any matter, the Senate cannot discuss or take action on that matter in such a manner that will prejudice the ultimate outcome of the judicial decision that is pending.
Senator Eze explained that since Senator Emodi had served the Senate a Notice of Appeal before the Supreme Court, it behoves on the Senate as a law abiding institution and to observe the notice that was served on it on the matter before the Supreme Court and thus, cannot go ahead to swear in Igbeke.
The Conference of Nigeria Political parties (CNPP) had at the weekend berated the Senate leadership over what it described as the culture of impunity, arbitrariness and contempt as evidenced by the flagrant disobedience of the Appeal Court judgment by the Senate as per the judgment in the election petition matter where the Appeal Court, Enugu Division, for the second time upheld the victory of Hon Igbeke over Joy Emodi.
CNPP disagreed with the decision of the Senate to place premium on Order 53 of the Senate above a subsisting Appeal Court judgment. While describing the position of the Senate leadership as 'rubbish', ANPP said it was trite law that any law or order for that matter that is inconsistent with the constitution is null, void and of no effect.
The opposition parties noted that the Appeal Court, for the avoidance of doubt, was the final court in the matter of senatorial elections petition disputes just as it stressed that the Supreme Court has ruled that Notice of whatever hue is neither Court Order nor Judgment.
Daily Sun gathered that Senate President Mark, who met with some PDP Senators and some principal officers, bowed to pressures on the need to ask Senator Emodi to stay away from the Senate following the order of the Court of Appeal. It was also gathered that Senator Mark, however, maintained that Igbeke would not be sworn in until the determination of the appeal at the Supreme Court.
The Court of Appeal had last Wednesday ordered the President of the Senate and the Clerk, Mr. Ben Efeture to swear in Hon. Igbeke as the lawful winner of the election to replace Senator Emodi who had occupied the seat since June 2007. But when Igbeke went to the Senate last week Thursday, he was denied access to the Senate chamber.