Row in Senate over move to probe Marafa's interview

By The Citizen

There was a row in the Senate yesterday over a move to probe an alleged 'false publication' credited to Kabir Marafa, Zamfara State Senator, who is a consistent critic of Senate President Bukola Saraki.

The senate president gave the directive after a debate on the interview granted by Marafa to a national newspaper, which was published at the weekend. Saraki yesterday directed the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to probe an alleged 'false publication' credited to Marafa

Marafa (Zamfara Central) was quoted to have backed a widely publicised letter by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in which he accused lawmakers of profligacy in the management of resources.

Some senators accused the outspoken Marafa of bringing the Senate into disrepute with his insistence in press interviews that Saraki must step down to save the image of the Senate.

Coming through a point of order raised by Senator Isah Misau at yesterday's plenary, the senator cited one of Marafa's press interviews.

According to him, the said interview was misleading, particularly at a time the National Assembly was working to pass the 2016 national budget. He described Marafa's comments as falsehood and unfortunate.

Misau insisted that the said interview tended to impinge on the integrity of individual senators, adding that he had received more than 500 telephone calls fromĀ  his constituents on the publication.

Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo South) lent his voice to Misau's accusation, saying it was disheartening that Marafa would continually bring the Senate into disrepute.

'If anybody had bothered to read that interview, you would know that it is an issue that we must not treat with kid gloves,' Urhoghide said.

But Senator Ahmed Lawan kicked against the move, saying there were more serious national challenges to tackle, particularly the dwindling oil prices.

Lawan said: 'I will advise the Senate that instead of spending so much time on how an individual senator could say something and rubbish the entire institution, we should rather take the bull by the horns and focus on our fundamental functions and mandates. If we do that, no Nigerian will not respect the National Assembly or indeed the Senate'.

His position was backed by Senator Abu Ibrahim who enjoined the Senate to tread softly so as not to infringe on the rights of any lawmaker.

Ibrahim said: 'We have so many pressing problems in this country. We should concentrate on those issues that will move the nation forward. But here we are trying to cause more troubles for ourselves. If we are doing anything to our colleague, we are doing so to ourselves collectively.'

But Saraki brushed aside the caution and referred the matter to the Senator Samuel Anyanwu-led Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions. The committee was given one week within which to submit a report to the Senate. The Nation.