By JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU & JOSEPH ERUNKE
ABUJA–TWELVE years after, the gruesome assassination of Minister Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice during the first term of former President Olusegun Obasanjo reverberated in the Senate chamber yesterday, when Senator Ehigie Uzamere, demanded that a ministerial nominee from Osun State and one of the accused in the act, Alhaji Abduljeli Adesiyan swear to a Quran to prove he was innocent of his implication.
The action of Senator Uzamere, representing Edo South, was prompted by the nominee, who said he wanted to announced before the senators that he was wrongly accused and jailed for three and halve years over the death of the late politician, say his implication in the death was a ‘political blackmail’ by enemies.
He insisted that he knew nothing about the death, saying already he had been tried and discharged by a competent court of law.
He brought up the issue when he was asked by the Senate President, David Mark to tell the senators about what he felt was not included in his CV already in their possession.
Speaking in response to Mark’s request, Alhaji Adesiyan said: “I am delighted and highly honoured to be standing before you this day as a nominee from Osun State. I am an educationist as contained in my CV before you. I am a member of Afenire and also a pro-democracy activist of the NADECO stool. But I have a blend of experience in educational study and education administration as a former Commissioner of Education in Osun State. I blend my wealth of political experience as a committed party man through the UPN to SDP to AD and now to PDP.I am
not just an educationist but a pro-democracy grassroots politician.
Distinguished senators, I also want to inform you that I was wrongly accused of having hand in the death of my political mentor, Uncle Bola Ige. I want to say here, before you the representatives of the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that such accusation is political blackmail. I was wrongly accused and detained for more than three and halve years over something I knew nothing about. I was tried by a court of competent jurisdiction in this country and I was discharged.
I want to say once again, before man and God that I, Abduljeli Oyawale Adesiyan,I know nothing about the assassination of Chief Bola Ige, I am innocent.”
After he spoke, Senator Mark, who presided over the screening session asked senators to ask him questions, thus, prompting Senator Uzamere stand up to lead in the question session.
But the senator said before he asked his question, the nominee must first be served a copy of the Holu Quran to swear that his hands were clean in the death of the late Bola Ige.
He said: “Mr nominee, you just mentioned Mr Bola Ige that he was your mentor, before I ask you this question with the kind permission of Mr Chairman, can you swear to a Quran before the question I am going to ask you? Can you swear to a Quran that you did not kill Bola Ige?”
This sparked off a loud shout of “no, this is a Senate Chamber and not a shrine”,no, is this a shrine? It is not a shrine, so it can’t happen here” from other senators.
The confusion thrown up as a result of this development lasted for several minutes before the Senate President intervened by ruling that the issue be brushed aside.
There was another uproar in during the exercise when Senator Mohammed Danjuma Goje, introduced himself as APC senator from Gombe State.
Senator Smart Adeyemi, PDP, Kogi West said the introduction contravened Senate rule since there was nothing before the Red Chamber to prove that he had crossed over to the APC.
Goje, while contributing during the screening, said: ” I am Mohammed Danjuma Goje, a former minister of the Federal republic of Nigeria and now a senator representing Gombe State on the APC platform.
But Adeyemi challenge him immediately, quoting some relevant Senate rules to support his argument.
“I will be speaking on the authority of Order 11 (1) & (2) and Order 53 (7) and our convention; “The president of the Senate shall allocate seat to each senator. A senator may only speak from the seat allocated to him, provided that the president of the senate may change the allocation from time to time.
“Mr President, by the convention of this Senate, I repeat Mr President that by our convention, our sitting arrangement is based on our party affiliation. Mr President, you have ruled here at close session and at open session that the issue of some senators defecting is still before a competent court of law. And as such, Mr President, it will be out of place for a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who was elected on the platform of the PDP, a former governor of this country and a statesman to sit down here on the sticker of the PDP and be making claims about a party that is not known to us in the chamber.
” So, Mr President, this is unacceptable and I want Mr President that your office deserved to be respected, you have ruled on m any occasions that this issue is still before a competent court of law.
So, it would be therefore out of place, it would be insulting for any senator to stand up here and lay claim to an issue that is before a competent court of law.”
Following the shouting match between senators of the two parties, the Senate President intervened, asking senators to conduct themselves appropriately and avoid the Red chamber of unnecessary troubles.
“I think we can avoid some energy building and go to the direction that really doesn’t give anybody anything extra. I think we can do that, we can do that. That is my appeal. I reserve my ruling on this but let us save ourselves unnecessary controversies,” he said.
Senator Goje, while asked by Senator Mark to continue his contribution, said: ” I thank you Mr Chairman, I just want to say that I have been in politics since 1979.Even the party that he was talking about, I know that party more than him.”
Meanwhile, the Senate screened four additional ministerial nominees bringing the number of those so far screened to ten. Screening of the remaining two is to be done on Tuesday.