October 18, 2023

Fresh trouble in Senate as Akpabio, Ndume clash

Fresh trouble in Senate as Akpabio, Ndume clash

…Ndume kicks against Akpabio’s alleged procedural errors, storms out of session

By John Alechenu, ABUJA

The brewing crisis in the Senate came to a head, yesterday, as the Chief Whip, Senator Ali Ndume, stormed out during plenary to protest the refusal of the Senate president, Godswill Akpabio, to address alleged procedural errors.

To prevent the situation from degenerating, Akpabio requested that his colleagues meet behind closed doors for further discussion.

How it began

Trouble started minutes after the commencement of the day’s session when Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South), raised a point of order to draw the Senate President’s attention to alleged procedural errors committed by him which were yet to be corrected.

Specifically, Ndume referenced a motion on the need for re-opening of Nigeria-Niger border, which was moved by Senator Sumaila Kawu (NNPP, Kano South), which Akpabio allowed to be debated without first having the official title of the motion read as the normal procedure.

Ndume, relying on Order 51 of the Senate Standing Rules, requested that the Senate President should allow for the correction of any error made or observed during plenary.

He said: “This is the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guided by laws, rules and procedures. If in the course of proceedings at any session errors are observed, they must be corrected before forging ahead with such proceedings.

“Mr. President, there are some things we do in this chamber that are against the rules. Sir, nobody is too big to learn.”

Akpabio had hardly allowed Ndume to end his speech when he ruled him out of order, saying since he had ruled on issues raised, it could not be revisited.

Undaunted, another senator, Sunday Karimi (APC, Kogi West), rose in defence of Ndume’s point of order by raising another point of order. He was equally ruled out of order by the Senate president.

In an attempt to douse the tension, which was reaching feverish pitch, Deputy Senate President, Jibrin Barau, quickly raised Order 16, which requires a substantive motion to be moved by any senator seeking to correct or review an earlier decision taken.

Akpabio sustained this order and this infuriated Ndume, who equally raised another point of order, specifically, Order 54 to seek correction of the perceived error.

Again, Akpabio ruled him out of order without allowing him to exhaust his line of argument.

Ndume storms out

At this point, Ndume had had enough, he picked up his documents and a few other belongings and stormed out of the Senate chamber.

His action, which was obviously unexpected, led the Senate to dissolve into a closed session.

Incidentally, Ndume was Akpabio’s campaign manager during the race for the Senate presidency in June.

This is happening at a time senators are preparing to leave for Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, for a retreat that will begin today (Wednesday).

Building tension

Tension had been building up long before the Senate resumed from its long vacation in September.

There were speculations about moves to impeach the Senate President and effect a change in the leadership over Akapbio’s alleged insensitivity to the demands of senators, sidelining of some ranking senators in the headship of committees, kowtowing to President Tinubu and unsavoury role during the screening and confirmation of ministerial nominees in August.

This prompted the Senate President’s media office to issue a statement dismissing the speculation as a figment of the imagination of the authors.

However, Senator Elisha Abbo, who was, on Monday, sacked by the Appeal Court, issued a statement on behalf of the powerful northern senators accusing Akpabio’s office of trying to pit them against President Bola Tinubu.

Akpabio bears no ill-will against his colleagues – Aide

Meanwhile, Mr Eseme Eyiboh, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Senate President, said yesterday that Akpabio harboured no ill-will towards any of his colleagues.

He also rejected claims by Senator Elisha Abbo that the Senate president influenced the judgment of the Court of Appeal that sacked him from the Senate.

Eyiboh in a statement, expressed shock at the assertions of the former Adamawa North senator, describing his claims as “delinquent, provocative and unbecoming of a distinguished senator.”

His words: “It is only a diseased and uninformed mind that will not believe that the outcome of any court proceeding is a function of the evaluation of facts and evidence within the province of the rule of law. “It is uncharitable for Senator Abbo to pour his frustrations on Senator Akpabio or anyone else and his action betrays the bile he has for Senator Akpabio.

“Democracy is founded on the rule of law, so for anybody to accuse one of the strong agents of democracy and governance in the mould of Senator Akpabio, such an individual must be a monument of self-pity and his swansong a discordant escape from reality.”

“Senator Akpabio, for emphasis, has no ill will towards any of his distinguished colleagues and as he has said in the past, the embers of the leadership election have been buried and replaced by the fraternal bond of nation-building he shares with the overwhelming majority of senators.”

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