By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA — THE Senate Committee on Ethics is yet to commence the trial of Senator Remi Tinubu more than two weeks after the committee was supposed to have submitted its report on the investigations on the alleged wrongful utterance of the wife of the national leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Vanguard sources in the Senate disclosed that partisan bickering and seeming sloppiness may have combined to derail or delay the trial which, it was learnt, may not commence until September when the Senate is expected to resume from its seasonal holiday.
Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, senators in the committee are, however, undeterred and are pushing for the trial not to be overtaken by events. The agitation of the PDP senators is, however, countered by the seeming reluctance of APC senators in the committee to partake in the trial of the wife of the leader of their party.
Mrs. Tinubu became the first woman in Nigeria to follow her husband into the Senate in 2011 after her husband’s stint in the Third Republic Senate.
Senator Tinubu was referred to the Senate Committee on Ethics following the adoption of a motion brought by the Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN), last June, alleging her contemptuous utterance on the Senate and its leadership during an event in Lagos.
Senator Tinubu, representing Lagos Central Senatorial District on the APC, was asked by the Senate leadership to appear before the committee after being accused of gross misconduct and breach of privileges, following reports credited to her in some national dailies where she allegedly lashed at the Senate leadership for providing uninspiring leadership besides being a lackey of the Federal Government-led Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The committee was given two weeks to try Mrs. Tinubu and make appropriate recommendations to the Senate.
But almost three weeks before the upper legislative chamber proceeded on its two-month annual recess, precisely on July 17, members of the committee were yet to formally meet, in what a source attributed to inability of members to form a quorum in two previous meetings convened by its chairman.
The chairman of the committee, Senator Akinyelure, who represents Ondo Central Senatorial District on the platform of Labour Party, LP, confirmed in a telephone interview with Vanguard, yesterday, that the committee could not beat the deadline because its members could not form a quorum in its previous meetings.
Akinyelure debunked claim that serious disagreements among members of the committee was responsible for the delayed take-off of the committee’s work, saying, as soon as the Senate resumed from recess on September 16, the committee would swing into action.
He disclosed that so far, not even an invitation had been sent to Mrs. Tinubu to appear before the committee, because according to him, the committee members were yet to formally meet to write the invitation letter.
Vanguard further gathered that the perceived predisposition of members of PDP members of the committee to ‘deal’ with the senator made their counterparts in the opposition APC to frustrate the two previous meetings convened, by staying away.
A member of the committee on the platform of the PDP, while reacting to the inability of the committee to meet since the day they were given the mandate, blamed senators of the APC in the committee, saying they had always stayed away from the meeting possibly to frustrate the committee’s assignment.
“I think the APC members in the committee are bent on frustrating the committee’s assignment, knowing full well that the wife of their leader has erred. But any how they push with their agenda, when we resume, we shall start and work in earnest and if she is found wanting, why would the committee not make necessary recommendation?”
Another member of the committee belonging to the APC on his part said the committee would not play to the gallery.
“We are not encouraging anybody to disparage the institution of the Senate but if somebody is found not to have erred in any way, there is no how you can recommend that a sledge hammer be used in dealing with her. This is what we are saying even though we are yet to meet formally,” he told Vanguard on telephone.
One of the aides to Senator Tinubu who was contacted on the telephone, confirmed that his principal had not been formally communicated by the committee on the matter, saying he would not say anything beyond that.
The Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, PDP, Cross River Central, had during Senate plenary on Thursday, June 26, raised the matter under Order 15 and 16 of Senate Standing Rules, where he informed the chamber that he read Mrs. Tinubu’s remarks in the interview she granted the media during the celebration of her 3rd year in the Senate, in Lagos.
He said the action of Senator Tinubu was not only contemptuous but also a breach of privileges.
In one of the publications, the senator who is the wife of a former governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola Tinubu, was quoted to have said: ”I am depressed with various activities that go on in the Senate daily. The Senate is not a place I really want to go back to except APC becomes the majority. But if it is the Peoples Democratic Party,PDP, government, I don’t think it is the environment I will like to be again. I have had my fill,” she was quoted to have said.