*Senate decides Wednesday
*74 Senators support motion for President to step down
By Emmanuel Aziken &Â Inalegwu Shaibu
PRESIDENT of the Senate, Senator David Mark, yesterday, buckled under pressure after 74 senators declared their support for a motion calling on President Umaru Yarâ€˜Adua to step down from office.
A decisive vote was, however, suspended till today after Senator Mark ruled that all senators present at the session must be given opportunity to speak during the unprecedented five hour closed door session. The Senate was forced to suspend deliberations on the issue to allow senators take a belated lunch at 4.53 p.m.
Yesterdayâ€™s close- door session was the longest in the David Mark Senate and the longest since the Anyim Senate deliberated on the plot to impeach President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Yesterdayâ€™s close-door session commenced at about 11.45 after the Senate suspended deliberations on the National Institute for Educational Planning and Administration bill sponsored by Senator Joy Emodi, PDP, Anambra North.
Senate deliberates on Judiciary committee’s report
Once the Senate entered into closed door, Senator Umaru Dahiru, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary presented the report of the ad-hoc committee of Senate lawyers on the issue. The ad-hoc committee comprises lawyers in the Senate. The report, based on the ad-hoc committeeâ€™s interaction with the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa, SAN, as reported in Vanguard, yesterday, opined that the court judgment mandating the Vice-President to assume functions of the President was sufficient.
Once Senator Dahiru made his submission, senators belonging to the Senator Bala Mohammed led National Interest Group, NIG, raised their objections to the report presented by Dahiru.
One senator told Vanguard at the end of the close- door session: â€œThe report was rejected because many of us argued we were not part of the court process, the Senate was not served and we are not bound by it.â€
Senators belonging to the NIG in their arguments articulated their minimum demand to be the transmission of a letter from the President transferring power to Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan.
At least 90 per cent of the more than 80 senators present, representing all the geopolitical zones in the country, were said to have spoken in favour of the demand articulated by the NIG.
The President of the Senate, Vanguard gathered, demurred on their demand and his objection was said to have led Senator Mohammed to rise up to announce his custody of the signatures of 74 senators in support of his motion.
Senator George Akume, PDP, Benue Northwest, a one time rival of Senator Mark for the Senate presidency was said to have risen up to denounce the demand by the NIG as he submitted that the court judgment mandating the Vice-President to execute the job of the President should be sufficient.
Akume was, however, shouted down by the senators according to multiple sources at the session. Akume in anger made to storm out of the meeting but was stopped by Senator Mark upon the clamour of the anti-Yarâ€™Adua senators who demanded that Akume should not be allowed to storm out of the meeting.
The deliberation, Vanguard, learnt continued with majority of the senators toeing the line of the NIG. The Senate president, however, insisted that all senators should be allowed to air their views, a decision that was reluctantly agreed to by the hungry Senators.
The anti-Yarâ€™Adua senators, however, made their point that the motion requesting the President to transmit authority to the Vice-President would be presented at the end of the debate.
Many of them who spoke to Vanguard, yesterday, said they were prepared to call for a vote should the President of the Senate block their efforts to compel the President to transmit a letter of transfer of power.
Speaking at the end of the dayâ€™s closed door session, Senate spokesman, Senator Ayogu Eze said: â€œWe have been behind close- door in the last five hours or thereabout to look at the issues before us especially the issues revolving round the health of Mr. President and the briefing we received from the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and all other development surrounding the matter in the last couple of days and weeks.
â€œAs you can see, it was a very painstaking session and it was the determination of the leadership of the Senate that every member of the Senate who wants to speak will be given opportunity to do so. We had to extend our sitting period and yet we were not able to exhaust opportunity for every body to speak, so, discussions and deliberations will continue tomorrow (today) also in close session and then we are going to conclude and come out with a position at the end of tomorrow (today).â€