As the Parliamentary Support Group for President Muhammadu Buhari in the Senate gathers momentum in the polity despite objections against it on the floor of the Senate penultimate week, TAIYE ODEWALE examines the crisis it portends with the leader of the group, Senator Abdullahi Adamu (APC Nasarawa West), already directed to appear before the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions
Support group and Electoral Act The genesis of the crisis started on the 14th of February this year, when the Senate in its passage of the 2010 Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018, concurred with the House of Representatives in reordering the 2019 sequence of elections which was openly kicked against by 10 senators led by Senator Abdullahi Adamu. It would be recalled that on the said day, Adamu and nine other senators addressed the press by submitting that the action of the Senate on the adoption of new sequence of elections was targeted against President Muhammadu Buhari .
They said since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had fixed dates for the 2019 general elections along with sequence in the order of Presidential and National Assembly fixed for February 16, 2019 and March 2, 2019 for Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections , there was no need for the National Assembly to come up with new sequence of election putting the Presidential election last and National Assembly election first.
Senate haunts group’s members Expectedly the Senate moved against the group by picking up on one of them (Senator Ovie Omo- Agege APC Delta Central), to face its committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions for allegedly desecrating the Institution of the Senate with his remarks at the press briefing. Though Omo- Agege first apologized for whatever offensive remarks he made against the Senate Institution but he later dragged the senate to court for ordering him to face the Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions Committee for explanations on the alleged off ensive remarks.
The Court steps in The Court process addressed to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, by Summit Law Chambers on behalf of the Senator dated 26th March, 2018, reads: “Please be informed that the aforesaid matter has been fi led before the Federal High Court wherein Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (Plaintiff ) is seeking injunctive reliefs restraining his referral to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition as a breach of his Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human rights amongst others.
“Find attached with this letter is the Advance Copy of the Originating Summons and Motion on Notice.
”It is significant to note that Rule 53 (5) of the Nigerian Senate Standing Orders 2015 states to the effect that once a matter has been fi led before the Court, the Senate must not take any action on the matter until same is heard and determined by the Court. “Distinguished Senator, it is also well settled law that where an action is pending in court no party must take any-action calculated to render the judgment of the court nugatory.
The law is also trite where a plaintiff is seeking injunctive reliefs before the court, no party is allowed to take steps calculated to render a fait accompli on the court. See Ojukwu v Governor of Lagos State (1986) 3 NWLR (Pt 26) 39. “In view of the above, we submit that the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition cannot invite the Plaintiff to appear before it until the matter he has fi led before the Federal High Court is determined one way or another.
“We believe that the Distinguished Senators will comply with the Rule of law on this matter” Though the committee adjourned sine die after digesting the content of the letter but its members one after the other , condemned the action taken by the senator.
Senate orders group’s probe Before the court action by OmoAgege, the group had transformed from being merely seen as Senators against new sequence of elections in the senate but as Buhari supporters under the aegis of Parliamentary Support Group for President Buhari, as announced by them in an obituary advertisement placed in some national dailies on 20th and 21st of last month over the death of one of their member, Senator Ali Wakili. Like a gathering storm, the Senate on the strength of a motion moved by Senator Ibrahim Gobir (APC Sokoto East) , penultimate week, mandated his committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, to probe both Abdullahi Adamu and Ovie OmoAgege as Chairman and Secretary of the group which in the eye of the other APC senators, engenders division among them.
Group dares senate While that is still pending, the group last Saturday, moved from mere newspaper advertisement announcement to physical cum practical action with its open identifi cation with President Muhammadu Buhari in Daura as his parliamentary support group. Aside Abdullahi Adamu and Omo – Agege, other Senators who were in Daura on Saturday as members of Parliamentary Support Group for President Muhammadu Buhari are, Abu Ibrahim, Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf, Babajide Omoworare, Ali Ndume etc.
It would be recalled that senators like Abdullahi Yahaya (APC Kebbi North), Ibrahim Kurfi (APC Katsina Central), Abdullahi Gumel (APC Jigawa North) , Binta Marshi Garba (APC Adamawa North), Andrew Uchendu (APC River East) and Benjamin Uwajumogu (APC Imo North). Obviously with the Senate resuming today and the Parliamentary Support Group for President Buhari intensifying on their activities regardless of Senate’s move against them, crisis is imminent, particularly among the APC senators.