Senate leadership crisis deepens

By The Citizen

Senator Kabiru Marafa, who was billed to appear before the committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions yesterday, failed to turn up but sent in a letter explaining his absence.

Two Senators had dragged him before the committee over alleged misconduct even as six lawmakers, bothered by his (Marafa's) antecedents, yesterday pushed for his sanction

Marafa, who was dragged before the committee by Senators Isah Misau and Matthew Urhoghide, failed to appear before the committee despite his earlier promise to honour the invitation.

He was accused of making comments in interviews that rubbished the reputation of the Assembly. Senator Urhoghide told  the committee that Marafa in several reports in some national dailies, alluded to claims that the federal legislature was corrupt.

'On January 27, the electronic media was inundated with accusation of the National Assembly by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and I saw it as an affront because facts were misplaced and I felt demeaned because of his deliberate attempt to malign us.

'I was not bothered by Obasanjo's claim but on February 7, Sen. Marafa granted an interview and what he said are in tandem with the claims of Obasanjo. I do not think the Eighth Senate has expressed any element of greed or recklessness, these are not friendly terms, they are despicable. So, he should be called upon to explain how corrupt the Senate is. The committee should ask him why he colluded with Obasanjo to bring down the reputation of the Senate,'' he said.

He urged the Red Chamber to invoke its Standing Rules by punishing Marafa to deter others and forestall a future outburst by other lawmakers.

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, said the members would deliberate on the issue and tender its report today.

He said: 'I got a letter dated February 17 from Sen. Marafa, signed by his legislative aide, indicating that the Senator was out of town to condole with Sen. Suleiman Hunkuyi, who lost his mother. The letter further indicated that the senator would be back at the weekend and would be ready for hearing any time this week.'

Meanwhile, six Senators yesterday petitioned the Red Chamber complaining about Marafa's behaviour. They are Senators Tayo Alasoadura, Peter Nwaoboshi, Rafiu Ibrahim, Obinna Ogba, Isa Hamma Misau and Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi. They said:  'We have watched with dismay from the inauguration of the Eighth Senate how Senator Kabiru Marafa has constituted himself as a cog in the wheel of progress, unity and harmony of the institution.

'Since his preferred candidates did not win elections into the leadership of the Senate, he has carried on as if the peace, order, good health and progress of the institution do not matter.

'After the various media attacks believed to be aimed at defaming, bringing into disrepute and public odium and lowering the standing of the Senate in  the estimation of right-thinking Nigerians were tabled on the floor of the Senate last Tuesday, our position has been that the Senate should temper justice with mercy.

'There is need for the institution of the Senate to be protected. Marafa is laying a bad precedent and he needs to be stopped from further maligning this revered democratic institution,' the senators said. The Sun.