By Emmanuel Aziken
The failure of the microphone attached to the seat of Senator Maji Lawan in the Senate chamber ironically amplified the fear of the opposition in the Senate last Wednesday.
As he made an attempt to cross the aisle to speak from the seat of an absent PDP member, many opposition Senators restrained him while the Senate President and many other PDP Senators urged Lawan, the minority leader to cross over to speak from the PDP side of the chamber.
Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora the deputy minority leader was the one who came to his aid by vacating his own seat to enable Lawan make his remarks in the chamber that day.
â€œWe do not want him to be contaminated with the PDP virus,â€ Senator Mamora said as he joined his colleagues in the minority benches to echo their reservations.
Whatever fear of contamination Mamora had was obvious the following day when one of the remaining 21 Senators in the minority caucus decamped to the PDP.
Senator Patrick Osakwe who was the only federal legislator elected on the platform of the Accord Party turned the party into an empty shell when he changed sides last Tuesday.
His return to the PDP was celebrated by the majority party members with fanfare and catcalls.
Mamora protested but in vain. After listening to Mamoraâ€™s protest, Mark quipped at him in a ruling laced with wit saying â€œMamroa you know I have real difficulty ruling you out of order, but this is one opportunity and I will not miss it, so I rule you out of order.â€
Though, it was never as if Osakwe had ever been far from the PDP having served his first two terms in the Senate on the platform of the PDP.
Osakwe, allegedly with the encouragement of PDP local officials in his native Delta State had decamped to Accord shortly before the 2007 general elections when the erstwhile chairman of the party in the State, Col. Ahmadu Ali (rtd) supposedly foisted his wife on the PDP in the State as the Delta North senatorial candidate.
Alleged entreaties to the Alis by both President Obasanjo and Governor Ibori on behalf of Osakwe, who had faithfully served their interests, failed as Mrs. Ali gummed herself to the PDP ticket.
Just days to the election Osakwe picked the ticket of Accord and reportedly with the active collaboration of the local Delta PDP machinery trounced the official PDP candidate and wife of the partyâ€™s national chairman in the main senatorial election.
The sound defeat of Mrs. Ali, sent the Alis into a daze forcing their relocation abroad for some weeks.
While he sat in the opposition benches, Osakwe was in fact never far in heart from the PDP. He indeed, seconded the nomination of Senator David Mark for the Senate presidency in June 2007 and was reportedly deeply involved in the intricate affairs of the PDP in his native Delta State.
His absence from the PDP ranks was, however, costly to him in terms of certain party privileges. On account of his effrontery, it is alleged that Ali compelled the Senate President to deny him his desire to chair the Senate committee on Niger Delta.
But Mark it seems was not unmindful of Osakwe and it is no surprise that he is the only Senator that is not a committee chairman or principal officer that has an office on the fourth floor of the Senate new building.
With a legacy interlaced with juicy off chamber exploits, the third term Senator is no push over and his decampment to the PDP is said to be in preparation for a more robust fourth term in the Senate from 2015. For the multi-millionaire polls magnate, it is indeed a return to his fixed odds.
On Wednesday the Senate for the first time since the inauguration of the Mark Senate sat in the afternoon. On that day the Senate considered the respective nominations of Justice A. Katsina-Alu and Justice A. Salami for the positions of Chief Justice of Nigeria and President of the Court of Appeal.
The screening of both nominees dragged the Senate sitting past 6. p.m. The screening of Justice Katsina-Alu which took place in the committee of the whole Senate was presided over by Senator Mark and lasted about ninety minutes. The brevity of the screening and the limited scope of the enquiry aptly reflected the shallowness of the countryâ€™s democratic experience.
Parallels were drawn by some to similar confirmation hearings in the United States which last days during which time a nominee is thoroughly examined to determine his suitability for such high office.
It was perhaps the desire for such exhaustive screenings that propelled some Senators like Senator Lee Maeba to canvass that the screening be handled by the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Legal Matters where the nominees could be made to react to petitions against them.
The Senate on Thursday proceeded on a three week break to enable the legislators spend the Christmas and New Year holidays. The budget which the Senate had promised would be passed before the end of the year remains hanging and as at
Thursday many agencies of government were still defending their proposals before the Senate committees.
The defence hearings were themselves not without their own dramatic experiences.
A total of 39,122 cases are pending in Imo State high courts, while 17,293 cases are pending in the various magisterial divisions in the state as at September 30,
The State Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Paul Onumajulu, made these disclosures on the occasion of the 2009/2010 legal year ceremony in Owerri.
â€œThis number is 1,502 less than the figure pending at the same period in 2008 when there were 40,624 cases. The decline notwithstanding, the figure is still substantial because when shared among 21 judges, each judge would have 1862 cases pending in his courtâ€, Onumajulu said.
On the constraints of the state judiciary, Onumajulu said that â€œnon-availability of fund has militated against structural improvement of the State Judiciaryâ€. In his own address, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prince Ken C.O. Njemanze (SAN), described the Bar as â€œan indispensable tool in the administration of justiceâ€.
According to Njemanze, the era of making false submissions, misrepresenting facts before the court in order to win cheap and pyrrhic victories or defrauding clients should be over.
â€œWe should all strive to the highest honour and have a deserved reputation as honest men. Our courts will face greater challenges in the months aheadâ€, Njemanze said.
Speaking also, Governor Ikedi Ohakim said speedy and quick dispensation of justice is the hallmark of a strong, good and virile judiciary.
â€œThis government is committed to ensuring that the justice delivery system in Imo State is effective and efficient.
I have given approval for the process of the appointment of new judges to commence, hoping that by the first quarter of next year, more judges will be appointed to help decongest the courtsâ€, Ohakim promised.