The Senate President, Senator David Mark has a challenging week ahead. He has to decide on the defection of 11 senators from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to the All Progressives Congress, APC before presiding over the screening of 11 ministerial nominees from tomorrow.
BY JOSEPH ERUNKE
AFTER weeks of intrigues, the Senate is expected to take a decision today on the notice of defection given by 11 senators of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The Senate had last Wednesday, suspended the day’s plenary and adjourned sittings to Tuesday, abruptly, to the surprise of many when agitations by the affected senators rose to the fore. The Senate first went into a closed door session where the issue was extensively discussed, before it proceeded on a forced adjournment today.
Senate spokesman, Senator Enyinninya Abaribe, said that the action was aimed at giving room to senators of the APC to participate in the party’s membership registration, but those following developments in the chamber, knew that it was all to avert the impending crisis which was to be stirred by APC senators on the day.
The APC senators had concluded plans to confront the Senate President, David Mark, over his alleged refusal to read the notice of defection submitted to him by the 11 aggrieved senators but the Senate leadership which got wind of the impending development, hurriedly adjourned.
The delay of the Senate brought gloom for many of the senators, especially given the fact that the party that they were defecting to, that is the APC was about to commence its initial registration.
After the letter was first presented penultimate week, the deputy president of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu who stood in for the Senate President, Senator David Mark, had cited the absence of the Senate President for his refusal to read the letter.
But following that, the delayed procrastination of the Senate leadership to read the letter raised further stirs leading to deep suspicion.
Following the Senate sitting of last Wednesday, the Senate spokesman, Senator Abaribe admitted that the defection issue did not only dominate centre stage at the closed-door session, but also, that all the parties involved saw reasons and conceded to the Senate President’s proposal to be allowed to study the legal implication of reading the notice letter presented by the 11 defecting senators in view of the case instituted by the senators in court, before making a clear-cut pronouncement on the issue.
He added that Mark’s hands were tied because the case filed by the aggrieved senators against the Senate was still pending.
The 11 senators were among about 23 senators and 57 members of the House of Representatives who took the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to court to stop the pair from declaring their seats vacant in the face of their decision to defect.
“The legal issues relate to both the interpretation of the Constitution and the interpretation of our rules within the Senate. And more time was given for further consultation. It was also resolved that when the Senate resumes plenary on Tuesday, that Senate will now also look into the issue.”
“In the past, senators have defected but they have not gone to court against the presiding officer.
The senators who are defecting had first gone to court against the presiding officer. And of course if you go to court that means that we have to suspend what we are doing pending the resolution of the matter in court. And so it was in the attempt for us to seek political solution to this matters that we had this discussion, “Abaribe explained.
Another issue to be tackled is the political crisis in Rivers State. Here, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, would appear before the Senate committee of the whole to brief the upper legislative chamber of all he knows about the crisis that have seen the police command in Rivers State, led by its immediate past commissioner, Mbu Joseph Mbu, being accused by the state government of complicity and seeking for his redeployment from the state.
Although, the Mbu was last week redeployed Abuja, the IG will still appear to tell the police side of developments in the state.
The Senate will also within the week, screen, confirm or otherwise of 12 ministerial nominees recently approved and sent to it for confirmation by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Although, the APC had called on its members in the National Assembly not to cooperate in the processing of executive bills and appointments, the apparent lack of capacity of the APC which is in minority almost makes any agitation by the APC senators in the chamber meaningless.
Given past assertions by the Senate that ministerial nominees would be given robust screening, eyes would be on the senators to see how firm they would be in quizzing the 11 men and women that are