Mark’s absence stalls hearing notice of defected 11 senators
Abuja - The Senate on Thursday deferred the request by Sen. Bukola Saraki that the notice of defection of 11 PDP senators to the APC be read on the floor of the Senate.
Saraki raised a Point of Order under the Senate Standing Order 15, which stipulates that a matter of privilege shall be given urgent attention by the senate.
Saraki said in Abuja that it was important for the letter to be read on the floor to formally inform the Senate of their defection to the opposition.
'A notice by a letter was communicated yesterday (Wednesday) to your Chair on notification of the change of political party by myself and 10 other senators from the platform of the PDP to the APC.
'So, I felt that it was necessary for me to bring to your attention that the letter has not yet been read,' Saraki said.
The Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ike Ekeremadu, who presided over the Thursday's plenary, said the matter could not be discussed because the Senate President, Sen. David Mark was not in town.
Ekweremadu said that Mark told him that a meeting had been scheduled with the defecting senators for next Monday to discuss the matter.
He said that the matter should be left until the Senate president returned from his trip outside Abuja but this explanation did not go down well with Saraki.
Ekweremadu3 said, 'the Senate president had travelled and before he travelled he told me you had a discussion with him and agreed to have a meeting on Monday.
'Unfortunately this is my own understanding of your dialogue with him and he is not here.
'So I believe that we would stand down any issue relating to that until he comes back,' Ekweremadu ruled.
The explanation led to an exchange of words as Saraki was insisting that the issue of the letter had nothing to do with Mark's intention to meet with the senators.
Sen. Danjuma Goje also rose up to insist that the notification letter should be read because he and 10 other senators had defected from the PDP to APC.
This threw the chamber into confusion with PDP and APC senators engaging each other in a shouting match.
Goje said, 'myself, and 10 others presented a letter to the senate president formally, informing him to inform the chamber that we have defected from the PDP to the APC.
'We thought the letter would have been read yesterday but it was not and we felt that it should be read today.
'I feel it is our right and privilege for that letter to be read. So, I demand that that letter be read.'
Ekweremadu, however, explained to Goje that a decision to defer the matter had already been taken because he (Ekweremadu) was not in possession of the letter.
Also speaking, the Senate Minority Leader Sen. George Akume (APC-Benue) argued that there was no reason to delay their request since a similar matter had taken place in the House of Representatives.
'Mr President, I speak on behalf of those of us who have sworn to protect the constitution of this country.
'This country has only one Constitution that guides the country. Therefore, what is constitutional in the House of Representatives cannot be unconstitutional in the senate,'' Akume said.
Ekweremadu advised other senators to shelve the matter and continue debate on the 2014 Appropriation Bill.