The crisis in the Senate over the order of next year’s general elections took a new twist yesterday as the Northern Senators’ Forum announced the removal of its chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu (APC, Nasarawa).
Former Sokoto State governor, Senator Aliu Wammako (Sokoto North), was immediately announced as a replacement.
Adamu’s removal was hinged on an alleged mismanagement of N70 million handed to him by the forum’s former leadership under the seventh Senate.
Last week, Adamu had led nine senators in protest against the chamber’s reversal of the election schedule, which demanded the National Assembly election come first while the presidential hold last.
Faulting the adoption of the controversial election sequence clause, the dissenters claimed the inclusion of Section 25 (1) was targeted at President Buhari.
They contended that the action of the Assembly breached the constitution, which they claimed empowered only INEC to fix dates for elections. They also alleged that the process was rushed to achieve predetermined motives.
Furious, Adamu had said: “Considering the strategic importance of the bill, it does not need to be rushed. So many members of the committee did not sign. We need to know why they did not. I believe that the content of the bill is not fair. We need to be fair. Why the rush? I will not be part of it.”
A letter titled “Announcement of Removal of Senator Abdullahi Adamu as Chairman Northern Senators’ Forum,” read by Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu notes: “This is to inform the Senate that the majority signatories of members of the Northern Senators’ Forum have removed Senator Abdullahi Adamu as chairman for financial mismanagement and misadministration. We announce his replacement with Senator Aliyu Wammakko immediately.”
The drama turned witty when some members of the forum, while addressing a press conference, declared ‘monkeys’ had raided Adamu’s farm and run away with the money.
Senator Shehu Sani said: “Abdullahi Adamu is a distinguished senator and an elder statesman. I will prefer a situation where he is in the Senate to answer such a weighty allegation made against him. It is not good to shave the head of a man in his absence.
“When we resumed as senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and assumed office, Senator Ahmed Lawan tendered the sum of N70 million to the Northern Senators’ Forum of 8th Senate. It was money gathered by the Forum in the 7th Senate.”
Sani added: “The rumours going round, whether it is true…But I believe most of the senators know it’s the fact. There were allegations that some monkeys raided the farm house of some of the executives in the Northern Senators’ Forum and carted away some of this money.
“I think this country is becoming a huge joke. First of all, it was rodents that drove away the president. Then we had snakes consuming about N36 million. And now, you have monkeys. They don’t want this to be said but I believe it should be very clear.”
When contacted, Adamu said he was not ready to give any statement on the allegation.
The sack of Adamu came few minutes after Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, another dissenter, tendered a formal apology to the House for alleging the re-ordering targeted the re-election bid of President Buhari.
“When this bill was passed in the House of Representatives, only 36 members were present. This cannot stand in a House of 360 members. This amendment needs to be debated before it is passed. We are supposed to determine if the decision of the House is in tandem with what the Senate passed. That was not done. We cannot stand and allow a law passed against Mr. President to stand,” he had said at a press briefing last week.
But citing Order 43, Omo-Agege pleaded for clemency, regretting that his action and utterance had impinged on the integrity of the chamber.
He said: “I addressed the media at the press centre. I made certain remarks during that interview which my attention has been drawn to. The comments are offensive, not just to Senator Dino Melaye but also to the entire Senate. I rise to apologise to the leadership and the entire Senate for those remarks. I take back whatever I said. Thank you, Mr. President.”
Though Ekweremadu appreciated the apology, he nevertheless said: “The matter has already been referred to the committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions. I urge the committee to quickly look into it, so that we can have the report as quickly as possible. Then we will take a decision.”
The Spokesman of the Red Chamber, Senator Sabi Abdullahi stressed at a press briefing that on the matter of the bill, the Senate was particularly concerned about maintaining its integrity.
Amid the re-ordering debates, a civil society organisation, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), has proposed the conduct of the general elections in one day.
At a forum it organised, yesterday, to discuss the need for electoral reforms ahead of the polls, PLAC Executive Director Celement Nwankwor said: “Though the National Assembly has made a law sequencing the order of elections, the civil society is insisting it should be conducted in one day.
If all elections are conducted in a day, the controversies being generated by the amendment would be put to rest and resources would be saved as well.”