* Postpones Plenary For Saraki
* PDP Senators Vow To Block Amaechi
There was a mild drama yesterday in the Senate, as the Upper Legislative Chamber, for the third time, dumped the screening of former Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi.
The fading hope that Amaechi would be sworn-in soon as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was sequel to the fact that the Senate did not even call up its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to present its reports on petitions written against the embattled nominee.
Similarly, expectations that Aisha Abubakar would be screened yesterday was also dashed as she was not even listed on the Order Paper on the same ground.
But the Red Chamber screened only two nominees, namely: Barr. Adebayo Shittu and Hon. Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim.
Meanwhile, the Upper House has rescheduled its plenary from today (Wednesday) to tomorrow (Thursday).
The UNION reports that Amaechi’s name was dropped by the Senate from the Tuesday Order Paper.
There were strong indications that the Senate may screen the duo of Amaechi and Aisha Abubakar when it resumed the screening exercise of the remaining 18 ministerial nominees yesterday.
This was sequel to the fact that the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions was set to present its reports on petitions written against the duo by their petitioners from Rivers and Sokoto states, respectively, before the Senate at yesterday’s Plenary.
But the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, however, did not lay any report before the Upper Chamber at its Plenary.
The UNION reports that Amaechi’s name was earlier listed in the first Order Paper amongst the nominees to be screened for confirmation on the third allotted day.
Amaechi, who was listed as No. 3 of the eight nominees to be screened, was, however, missing from the list of nominees in the second Order Paper, which had only three nominees.
Amaechi’s woes may be compounded by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the Senate, who has vowed to ensure that it would not come to pass.
The senators, who rose from a closed-door meeting soon after the Senate-in-Plenary, however, refused to make known their intention.
But The UNION gathered that the PDP Senate Caucus would capitalise on the fact that the petition against Amaechi is still in court.
Accordingly, they insisted that they would not let him go through the screening until the determination of the matter by the court.
In the two order papers, only two nominees were present, including Barr. Adebayo Shittu, who remained unchanged as No. 1 and Hon. Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim, who was No. 4 on the first paper, but was listed as No. 3 in the second paper.
Wife of former Governor of Yobe State, Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Khadija Ibrahim, was, however, the second nominee to be screened, after Shittu.
The UNION reports that the third nominee of the day, Claudius Omoleye Daramola, was not taken.
Meanwhile, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri led the list of five nominees, whose names were listed on the first Order Paper, but were, however, dropped from the second Order Paper.
Others were Hon. Bawa Bwari, Ocholi Enojo James, Mansur Muhammed and Zainab Ahmed.
Responding to questions on the role of religious leaders in government from the senators, Shittu called for religious leaders to be motivated by salaries.
“We are all religious, and yet, we don’t want religion to have any role in governance. If I have my way, all religious leaders should be paid salaries so that they can play the role of moralising society,” he said.
When asked what reforms he would bring into the justice system, if made the Attorney-General of the Federation, he said that he would “focus on prison decongestion, halt frequent adjournment of court cases, training and motivation for judicial officers and lawyers in justice ministry”.
Shittu also called for the separation of powers between the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
“I am aware that there are agitations all over the country for a separation of the office of the Attorney General from that of Minister of Justice. It is unfortunate that Nigeria does not have these separate offices. I am aware that this Senate is already aware of its importance.
“If we didn’t know its importance, the fact that for four months, we have not had an Attorney General and jobs that are supposed to be done by the office of the Attorney General cannot be done will explain the fact that it is very important for us to have a separation in powers of the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
“The importance of having this is that once he is appointed, his tenure is fixed, he cannot be removed except with the approval of the Senate. To that extent, he will be able to move even against high government officials when the need arises. What has happened in the last four months is being lost already. But with the appointment of new ministers, it is possible that lost grounds will be regained,” he added.
In a different development, the Upper House yesterday rescheduled the resumption of the Senate-in-Plenary from today to tomorrow.
Senate may have taken the decision to show solidarity with its President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, who is billed to appear before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) today.
The UNION reports that Saraki was docked at the Tribunal on September 22 for alleged falsification of assets declaration.
The postponement was contained in a terse statement, which was signed by the Acting Clerk to the Senate, Nelson Ayewoh, and made available to the senators.
“This is to inform all distinguished senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that the resumption of the Senate-in-Plenary has been rescheduled from Wednesday, 21st October 2015, to Thursday 22nd October 2015.
“All distinguished senators are by this notice requested to resume sitting in plenary on Thursday, 22nd October, 2015 by 10:00 a.m. prompt, please,” it read.
-Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja