Senate : We Won't Entertain Defectors' Letter Now


Upper chamber to meet IGP, screens ministerial nominees next week BEVERLY HILLS, February 05, (THEWILL) - The Senate on Wednesday foreclosed the possibility of reading the letter of the 11 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senators planning to defect to the All Progressives Congress (APC) thus compounding their travails .

The Senate unequivocally declared that the letters of the defecting senators cannot be read on the floor of the Senate because it will be prejudicial to the ongoing legal process on the matter.

Senate President, Senator David Mark, according to Senate Spokesman, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, is still exploring legal interpretations on the matter, since the matter is still pending in court.

The Senate will also meet with the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, next Tuesday and screen the ministerial nominees the following day.

The senate for the second time in two days went into closed door session to trash out issues concerning the defection of the senators to APC .

The first was on Tuesday when the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, presided.

Senator Abaribe told a press conference shortly after a prolonged executive session, that Senators as lawmakers should not be lawbreakers as he maintained that since the case is still pending in the court of law, the Senate cannot do anything on the matter.

The senators, he said, resolved at the executive session that since the defection matter is already in court at the instance of the intending defectors , the Senate rules bares them from entertaining such matter.

"In the past, senators have defected but they have not gone to court against the presiding officer.

The senators who are defecting had first gone to court against the presiding officer.

And of course if you go to court , that means that we have to suspend what we are doing pending the resolution of the matter in court," he said.

Abaribe explained that the closed session was to seek and find ways to address some critical legal issues brought up by the letter written by 11 PDP senators while the matter was still pending in the court, and also the legal issues bordering on the interpretation of the Constitution and Senate Rules were thrown up in the course of the discussion.

Abaribe said: "I can confirm to you that on the matter of those who want to defect that the issue was also discussed during the closed session.

"It was also resolved that the senate, the senate president in particular, would have to seek further legal advice because of the serious legal issues that was thrown up during the discussion.

"The legal issues relate to both the interpretation of the Constitution and the interpretation of our rules within the senate.

"And more time was given for further consultation.
It was also resolved that when the senate resumes plenary on Tuesday, that senate will now also continue to look into the issue.

"One thing is clear, under Rule 25 of the Senate, only the senate president has the power and the authority to interpret anything and we decided that it would be necessary for him to also seek further legal advice.

"I think it is in the best interest of the country for decisions that are going to be taken to be taken with due cognisance of the law.

We are law makers, we are not law breakers.
" On why some of the APC senators and the intending defectors stormed out of the chamber ahead of the Senate President as against the usual tradition of lawmakers waiting for the Senate President to march out first, Abaribe explained that it should not be interpreted as that.

" No, it only means that people are exercising their freedom of expression and freedom to meet with each other.

Yes, there is a tradition that we shake hands when we are leaving.

Whatever noise you hear at the end of the session is merely senators greeting each other and catching up with past gist pending when we go to our various committee rooms for the consideration of the 2014budget.

"So, what you saw was chairmen calling their members to come for the meetings," he stated.

Reacting to the logjam, Minority Leader George Akume ( Benue APC) said: "Well it is open knowledge that 11 senators from PDP has indicated their interest to defect from PDP to APC.

They are adequately covered by some provision of constitution and of course the issue of defection is not new; it has happened before in the two chambers and when we met today to deliberate on this particular issue, we said okay, Senate President should look at political solution.

Nobody talked about legal opinion on this matter and we are going to reconvene Tuesday to continue on this issue.

"I want to believe strongly that by Tuesday this matter will be laid to rest in the interest of the country and for sanctity and integrity of the Senate.

" Last week, 11 senators in a joint letter to the Senate President, conveyed their intention to change political parties but the letter was not read on the floor of the Senate Those on the list include Senators Danjuma Goje (Gombe), Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa), Bukola Saraki (Kwara), Jumai Alhassan (Taraba),Umaru Dahiru (Sokoto), Ibrahim Gobir (Sokoto), Magnus Abe (Rivers), Wilson Ake (Rivers), Shaaba Lafiaji (Kwara), Ahmed Barata (Adamawa) and Jibrila Bindowo.

The defecting senators had earlier gone to court seeking an injunction from the Court for the Senate President not to declare their seats vacant Meanwhile, the Senate will meet the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, over the crisis in Rivers State next Tuesday.

The Senate had summoned the IGP to come and brief the Senate and give a situation report on the Rivers State crisis.

The Senate will also commence screening of President Goodluck Jonathan's ministerial nominees next Wednesday The nominees are: Senator Musiliu Obanikoro ( Lagos) , Hon Mohammed Wakili ( Borno), Alh.

Abduljelili Oyewale Adesiyan ( Osun), Amb.
Aminu Wall ( Kano), Hajia Jamila Salik) ( Kano), Mrs Akon Etim Eyakenyi (Akwa Ibom), Lawrencia Labaran Mallam ( Kaduna), Dr.

T W Danagogo (Rivers), Asabe Asmau Ahmed ( Niger), Gen Aliyu Gusau Mohammed (Zamfara), Boni Haruna (Adamawa) and Dr.

Khaliru Alhassan (Sokoto).