By Henry Umoru
ABUJA— The Senate, yesterday, went into a rowdy session after Eyninaya Abaribe, a Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, member from Abia State, described President Muhammadu Buhari as incompetent.
Abaribe had moved a motion reacting to a comment made by Buhari in UK on Wednesday.
While receiving Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Buhari blamed the farmers, herders clashes on militias trained by Muammar Gaddafi, former Libyan President.
But speaking on the floor of the chamber, Abaribe wondered why the President was still the commander-in-chief when he could not protect the country from invasion.
He said: “Two explanations were given by highly ranked security personnel on the matter of herdsmen versus farmers clashes.
“First of all, the IGP said these killings were as a result of laws being passed by states. Secondly, the Defence minister said these killings were as a result of the blockage of routes through which these herders are to move their cattle.
“We continue to look at all these explanations. Yesterday in London, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and the President of Nigeria said the killings are as a result of the people who were trained by the late Muammar Gaddafi and so implying that these people doing these killings in Nigeria are from outside Nigeria and even if he says they are invaders from outside Nigeria, what it means is that now it validates my last point on this floor.
“When a commander-in-chief cannot take care of invaders, invading Nigeria why is he still a commander-in-chief, why do we continue to indulge? Why do we continue to indulge this president that everywhere he goes he tells everyone outside this country that he is totally incompetent? Because it is obvious”
At this point, lawmakers of All Progressives Congress, APC, challenged him, with shouts of “point of order” erupting in the chamber.
After calm returned to the chamber, Ahmed Lawan, Majority Leader, cited order 53 of the Senate rules, saying the president deserves respect.
Lawan said: “The president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the leader of this country and deserves the respect and courtesy of this chamber and those of us in it.
“I was once a member of the opposition and I do not recall ever insulting the then president. This is our institution. If we do not conduct ourselves with respect, nobody will. I want to ask my colleague to immediately withdraw his statement and apologise to this chamber.”
Cautioning Abaribe, Senate President,Dr Bukola Saraki, said offensive words should not be used.
Responding, Abaribe said: “I am very well guided by you but there are words that there are no alternatives to. What I did was to interpret the words by Mr President in London. If any word I used is misunderstood by anyone, I apologise. What I am saying is simple.”
Senate suspends Omo-Agege for 90 legislative days
Meanwhile, the Senate has suspended Senator Ovie Omo- Agege (APC, Delta Central) for 90 legislative days, apparently for kicking against the new sequence of elections adopted by the upper chambers, which was alleged to have been targeted at President Buhari ahead of 2019 election. .
Senator Omo-Agege has also been asked to withdraw from the court his suit against the Senate President, Saraki, and the Senate as part of the conditions to forgive him at the expiration of the 90 legislative days’ suspension.
The Senate also mandated that Parliamentary Support Group (Senate) for President Muhammadu Buhari in which Senator Omo-Agege is the Secretary and Senator Abdullahi Adamu (APC, Nasarawa West), chairman, must be disbanded immediately.
Decisions of the Senate were sequel to the report of Senator Samuel Anyanwu (PDP, Imo East)-led Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, which investigated the Senator.
Earlier, the committee had recommended that Senator Omo- Agege be suspended for 181 legislative days for dragging the upper chamber to court and to serve as a deterrent to others, but following appeals from the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe North) and Kabiru Marafa (APC, Zamfara Central) for leniency and in the spirit of one family, Senate President Bukola Saraki reduced it to 90 legislative days.
I’ll continue to be ardent supporter of Buhari— Omo-Agege
Senator Omo-Agege, while responding to the decision of his colleagues, said he would continue to remain an ardent supporter of President Buhari, adding that the Senate ought to know that the matter was pending in court and its action subjudice.
He said: “As already well-known by many, the issues acted upon today (yesterday) by the Senate are pending before a court of competent jurisdiction and, therefore subjudice. It is the Senate’s view that the issues be withdrawn from court for an amicable resolution to hold. Until a resolution is reached, it is better to respect the court processes by not commenting on them.”
He said the decision to disband the Parliamentary Support Group, PSG (Senate) for President Buhari as raised by Senate was left with the over 50 members of PSG to decide.
In his remarks, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki said: “Distinguished Colleagues, a number of points have been raised. One borders on the issue of preserving the integrity of this institution. To me, that is what I think is the most important thing for us.
“Second, is where we take actions that are not sincere. I think in this chamber, if we want to talk about who has the right to say he is Chairman of a Parliamentary Support Group for Mr. President both by action and by what we have done, I think that I have the right to lead that more than anyone else here.
“Those of us that understand politics, understand that because of our own peculiar interest, sometimes some people decide to act like they are holier than thou or more committed at the expense of others. This is not something that we should tolerate, and I believe that in an institution like this we must show discipline, but at the same time we must also show compassion.”