Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja
The Civil Liberties Organisa- tion (CLO) maintained yes- terday that the election of Senator Ike Ekweremadu as the Deputy Senate President was not only credible and transparent, but also followed due process.
According to the Organisa- tion, its attention was drawn to the call by the Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu’s Senate Unity Forum (SUF) on Ekweremadu to resign from his office.
But in an emailed statement, which was signed by its Execu- tive Director, Comrade, Ibuchukwu Ohabuenyi Ezike, CLO, however added that Ekweremadu’s election was in accordance with legislative practice and the law.
It recalled that what happened in the National Assembly on June 9 was a replication of what Nigerians did on March 28, and urged the ruling APC and its senators to respect the popular choice of leadership of the National Assembly.
“The attention of the Civil liberties Organisation (CLO) has been drawn to the call by the Sen- ate Unity Forum (SUF), a group of some of the senators elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), on the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, to resign from his office.
“The call is anchored on the as- sumption by the group that Ekweremadu’s election was not valid because he was elected by 54 out of 109 senators to emerge as the No. 2 in the Upper Chamber. The group insists that Ekweremadu ought to have scored 55 out of the 109 votes (senators).
“However, CLO recalls that the leaders of the National Assembly (NASS) were on June 9, 2015, elected in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, the presidential Proclamation and rules guiding the conduct of NASS business.
“Even if there were any rule that insists on 55 votes out of the 109 senators, it should not be lost on the protesting senators that there were only 108 senators- elect to be inaugurated for the 8th Senate due to the death of Senator Ahmed Zannah. As such 54 of 108, and not 109 senators, should validate Ekweremadu’s election, if there is any such rule.
“Also, 74 senators participated in the said election, while the rest were either willingly absent or refused to cast their ballots. Seventy four senators make more than a quorum of the Senate, and 54 out of 74 votes cast in that circumstance, make more than a simple majority stipulated by the 1999 Constitution. s“It was very obvious that the time, date and venue of the inauguration of the 8th Senate/National Assembly were conspicuously published, and any senator, who absented him or herself from the inauguration, did so at his or her will and peril; hence, such act cannot void the lawful action of the Senate on that date.
“CLO, therefore, reinstates its earlier position that the election of the leaders of the 8th National Assembly, on June 9 was transparent, credible, followed due pro- cess and was in accordance with legislative practice and the law.
“Already, the President of the Federal Republic, General Mohammadu Buhari, has (already) congratulated the leaders of the National Assembly on their elections, and promised to work with them. Also, the leadership of the APC has accepted to work with the new leadership of the National Assembly, and it should not be found discriminatory in so doing.
“More so, the APC, itself, has benefitted from similar circum- stance in Plateau and Benue states where its lawmakers emerged the speakers of the states’ Houses of Assembly, even though the Party is in the minority in to the PDP those states.
“CLO, therefore, frowns at any attempt at overheating the polity or indulging in acts that may pro- mote crisis, political persecution, tyranny and intimidation of any kind either in the National Assembly or anywhere in Nigeria. CLO enjoins APC to close ranks, call its members in the Senate to order and encourage healthy rela- tionship among Nigerians in the NASS and at large.