Senators oppose standing committees’ constitution

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Abuja – Some senators on Tuesday declared their opposition to constitution of Standing Committees of the Senate announced by President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, on Thursday.
The senators claimed that the constitution of the committees flouted the 1999 Constitution of the country and the Senate’s Standing Order, declaring that the exercise was null and void.
The lawmakers, who belong to the Unity Group, a faction loyal to Sen. Ahmed Lawal (APC-Yobe North) made this position known while briefing newsmen in Abuja.
They said that the committees were formed without recourse to provisions of necessary laws.
A representative of the group, Sen. Kabiru Marafa (APC-Zamfara North), told the newsmen that the committees were not subjected to the approval of all senators in plenary.
Marafa, who was appointed Chairman, Committee on National Identity and National Population, explained that Section 62(1) of the constitution gave the National Assembly the power to constitute committees.
He added that Section 62(4) stated that all committees must be subject to approval by all senators.
He disclosed that another development, which made the committees null and void, was the increment of committees from 57 to 65.
According to him, some sections of Order 97 of the Senate Standing Rule specify that only 57 committees shall be constituted.
The lawmaker also noted that the leadership of the committees was lopsided as it did not reflect even representation of the six geopolitical zones.
He further pointed out that the Selection Committee, saddled with the responsibility of constituting the standing committees was itself, not properly constituted.
He said the selection committee was made up mainly of new senators, flouting the standing order, which specified that it should be constituted based on ranking.
“What we are witnessing today in the National Assembly and the Senate in particular, is legislative tyranny, where impunity wants to be the order of the day.
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“Laws are meant to be respected and if we can treat our Order with impunity then we have no business being here.
“There is no committee; they are not legally constituted and they cannot function. Any further action is unacceptable to Nigerians and I have discharged that responsibility,’’ he said.
Contributing, Sen. Suleiman Hunkuyi (Kaduna North) said that procedures for constituting standing committees were flouted, adding that no resolution on it was reached at plenary.
Hunkuyi, who was appointed Vice Chairman, Committee on Federal Character Commission and Inter-Governmental Affairs, said: “We are blowing the whistle, educating those that do not know and then throwing light on those areas that we feel require Nigerians to know.’’
In a swift reaction, Spokesperson of the Senate, Sen. Abdullahi Sabi, said the committees were approved during the adoption of votes and proceedings.
Sabi said that no lawmaker had the power to declare any proceeding in the chamber null and void because they were not judges.
He said “votes and proceedings of Wednesday, Nov. 4 were approved today (Tuesday) and the approval contain the issues he is raising.
“And, it is very clear that the composition of committee leadership was part of the votes and proceedings; so, I don’t know what approval he is looking for.
“As far as the senate is concerned, we have approved the chairmen and vice chairmen of the 65 committees.
“I want to believe that the issues raised by Sen.Marafa are not new at all.
“It is just a repeat of what we have seen in the past. The issues he has raised cannot be far from the leadership issue which you are all very familiar with.’’
He called on all aggrieved senators to sheath their sword and work for the progress of the country. (NAN)

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