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Senators in rowdy session over State of the Nation Address Bill

By The Rainbow
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Tension flared at Wednesday's Senate plenary session as two federal lawmakers, Senator Kabiru Marafa, of the All Nigerians Peoples Party (ANPP) representing Zamfara Central and Senator Paulinus Igwe of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), from Ebonyi Central, almost got into a fight over the State of the Nation Address Bill.

The rancour occurred in the hallowed chamber over the State of the Nation Address Bill which President Goodluck Jonathan has refused to sign into law.

Emotions went high as lawmakers considered a letter from President Goodluck Jonathan on the bill, where he had faulted some clauses in the bill and called for amendments.

Both chambers of the National Assembly had passed the State of the Nation address bill which would ensure that the President presents to a joint sitting of the National Assembly, an address on critical issues and appraise government performance in the year.

However in a letter to the Senate, President Jonathan stated that Section 67 of the Constitution has made ample provision for the kind of address contemplated by the bill.

President Jonathan further stated that he is inclined to accede to the bill subject to some amendments.

As the deliberations commenced on the President's letter, however some lawmakers faulted the President's call for amendments to the bill and advocated moves to override President Jonathan's veto on the State of the Nation Bill.

Senator Ita Enang, asked the Senate to seek an interpretation from the Supreme Court to know if the President has powers to make amendments to a bill sent to him for assent by the National Assembly.

Shortly after that submission, the Senate President, Senator David Mark called for an adjournment, but it all went downhill from there as the session went rowdy.

The trend of arguments heightened tension in the chamber and in the ensuing confusion the two lawmakers almost exchanged blows, whilst some called for caution.

Meanwhile, Senate spokesperson, Enyinaya Abaribe explained that the near fisticuff between the lawmakers had nothing to do with the debate on the state of the nation address bill.

The Senate did not specifically say if it would go with the recommendation by Senator Enang to seek for interpretation from the Supreme Court but the Senate President appealed to lawmakers to defer resolutions on the bill until they are better informed on the best measure to adopt.