Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja
Vocal two-time member of the Senate, Senator Kabiru Marafa, on Sunday in Abuja, called for the suspension of the Senate President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, for turning things upside-down within the last eight months.
Reacting to insinuations that he could be suspended from the Senate this week for allegedly disparaging the Senate as an institution in a recent interview published by one of the dailies (not The UNION), Marafa boasted that nobody can suspend him over the remarks he made in a recent interview published by one of the dailies (not The UNION).
His reasons for calling for Saraki’s suspension include: forgery of the Standing Rules, illegally increasing the number of the Senate Standing Committees from 57 to 65 with attendant violation of ranking rules in their compositions, and refusing to resign as the Senate President in the face of trial on corruption charges at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over alleged assets declaration falsification.
The UNION reports that the Senate had last week Tuesday mandated its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to investigate Marafa’s alleged offensive remarks against the Senate, and by extension, the National Assembly.
In the said interview, Marafa, amongst others, kicked against the N4.7 billion car purchase plan of the 8th Senate, as well as the secrecy of accounts of the entire National Assembly.
Headed by Senator Samuel Anyanwu, the Committee was further mandated by the Senate to come up with recommendation(s) on action(s) to be taken against Marafa within a week, which should expire on Tuesday.
But in an explosive interview with Senate correspondents in Abuja on Sunday, on the likelihood of what may happen on Tuesday at Senate’s Plenary, Marafa claimed that he did not see any offensive remarks he allegedly made against the Senate and by extension, the National Assembly as revered institutions in the said interview, even after reading through it over and over again.
“Nobody, I repeat, nobody in that Senate can suspend me over those remarks I made in the said interview. Rather, it is the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, that should be suspended by the Senate for turning things upside-down within the last eight months from forgery of Standing Orders to illegally increasing the number of standing committees in the Senate from 57 to 65 with attendant violation of ranking rules in their compositions and above all, refusing to resign as Senate President, in the face of trial on corruption charges at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) and invariably battering the image of the Senate.
“He should remember that when the issue first came up in August or September last year, we didn’t tell him to resign and thus, cannot by whatever means now, gag us and gag our mouths; the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria gives us the right to say our opinion, to air our views, and nobody can deny us that one,” he said.
He added that even the controversies rocking the 2016 Budget in the Senate since January are, in very logical ways, linked to the pending trial of Saraki at the CCT through the aides of the fifth columnists shouting at different times that Budget is missing, Budget has been doctored, Budget is padded and can no longer be passed as earlier planned.
“Honestly speaking, if I’m to comment on the controversy that has been trailing the 2016 Budget in the Senate, I will say (that) it is all the work of the 5th columnists there. You remember we woke up after 15 days or also of the receipt of the Budget in the National Assembly. We woke up one day and the Senate President just came and said there is no budget; that the Budget is stolen, embarrassing everybody. But the following day, the Speaker said that it is not stolen, our own is here.
“Next, they said (that) the Budget is doctored. Next, they said (that) the Budget is padded. Next, they said (that) there are discrepancies all over the place.
“We knew how they came into the leadership of the National Assembly or the Senate. Was it a coincidence that the issue of padding and everything just came up, after the Supreme Court said go and face your trial?
“Suddenly, we started hearing that we cannot pass the Budget, as we promised because there are discrepancies, and so on and so fort. In a nutshell, all the noise about the Budget (is) all about this issue of corruption trial or CCT trial; that is all, no more no less,” he claimed.
Marafa, however, promised that as somebody, who has the highest regard for the Senate as an institution, that he would appear before the Committee when he is re-invited.
He disclosed that the Committee actually invited him to appear before it last Thursday, but he could not on account of his being away in Kaduna joining Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi in the mourning of his late mother.
“I am ready to face the Committee, and I am going to face the Committee anytime they fix another date. They wrote me a letter, or they wrote a letter to my office in my absence last week; but I was not around then.
“I responded to the letter upon which they fixed Thursday last week for the sitting. But we were still in Kaduna then, and in fact,
sent them a text that I would want them to fix another date any day from Monday, which will be 22nd February, 2016, is convenient for me. And I equally instructed my Special Assistant to reply the letter they sent, and to also seek for another day from Monday.
“I again called the (Committee) Clerk to find out, if they have fixed another date; but till this moment, I am talking to you, they have not. And anytime they do so, I will face the Committee for one reason, just one reason, that is, my respect for the institution of the National Assembly or the Senate,” he explained.
But the Committee members according to him, would be in for serious shocker from him as he would catalogue to them all the misdeeds the leadership of the Senate, under Saraki, has perpetuated within the last eight months, part of which the Committee itself had been used to do like the futile attempt of trying to rubbish the CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar, through a petition brought by a network owned by a serving senator, who is even a member of the Committee, knowing full well that Saraki is standing trial before the man.
He described Senator Hamman Misau, the senator, who raised the point of order upon which the Senate resolved to investigate him as somebody, who does not know what he is doing.
“Senator Misau, like some other senators currying favour from Saraki, is like a policeman posted to a juicy check point by his Divisional Police Officer (DPO); and in this case, the Senate President, and he must do everything possible to massage his ego at all times so as not to be posted elsewhere, because under Saraki, Senate has more or less been turned into Government House where some senators are ready to play the role of commissioners.
“He (Hamman Misau), is a bloody new comer that doesn’t even know the Senate, doesn’t know the workings of the Senate, who sees the Senate as a Police post and he sees the committee as a roadblock and the Senate President as the DPO that will send or post him to one of the lucrative roadblocks and that he would make maybe money there otherwise, he wouldn’t have been doing what he is doing.
“Like I said in that interview he has turned the place upside down. You carry somebody that retired yesterday as police superintendent or assistant superintendent of Police, you say he is chairman, Senate committee on Navy. it is an insult. Are you saying experience do not count? Order 3(1 to 4) must be followed,” Marafa pointed out.