Senate suspension of Ndume: No to ego-tripping *Rescind decision now

By Editor on 29/03/2017

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The Senate on Wednesday brought down its hammer on Senator Ali Ndume, representing Borno East Senatorial District of Borno State. He was suspended in the anti-climax of the two-week old controversy surrounding Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Chairman, Senate Committee on the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Dino Melaye in which he played a central role.

It was a grand closure to another chapter in the epic surrounding the rejection of Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, for the second time by the upper legislative chambers of the National Assembly and the invitation of the Controller General (CG) of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Hameed Ali, two major issues that dominated the polity in recent weeks.

On March 15, 2017, the Senate had thrown out the request of President Muhammadu Buhari asking it to confirm Magu as a substantive chairman of the anti-graft agency.

The verdict came on the strength of a report of the Department of State Security (DSS), which listed a catalogue of official malfeasances allegedly committed by the EFCC boss, which culminated in the damning verdict that he had failed the integrity test and would be a danger to the President’s anti-corruption drive, one of the central legs on which his government stands.

In Ali’s case, things got to a head when, in clear rebuff of the Senate, he appeared in mufti to the Senate chambers on March 17, against the directive that he must appear in his service uniform.  


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The Senate

It was in the heat generated by these two events that SaharaReporters, a controversial online platform, came out with two major indicting, but separate reports against Saraki and Melaye.

Saraki, was accused by the medium of leading an onslaught against Ali for daring to seize an armoured Range Rover Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), which the Senate President allegedly acquired for the use of his wife and attempt to use forged papers from his office to clear the car, as well as failing to pay the correct duty. Ali was accused of standing in the way of the obvious fraud.

In the case of Melaye, the SaharaReporters platform reported that the Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District paraded a fake claim that he was a graduate of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.

Both reports have, however fallen flat on their faces after they were investigated by the Senate. Vice Chancellor of ABU, Prof. Ibrahim Garba told the Senate on Monday that Melaye was a graduate of the institution, while the Senate cleared Saraki of blame in the SUV matter.

Obviously, Ndume’s sin, was that he transported the two clearly false reports from the controversial online medium into the Senate chambers and relied on them in trying to fight back his perceived foes.

Recall that the Borno Senator, was removed from his position of Senate leader owing to his vehement opposition to the treatment meted to Magu, his constituent, whom naturally he felt he owed some level of protection., had minced no words on the foregoing issues. We had been very clear that the Senate acted within its powers not to confirm Magu and should not be afraid to stand its ground in that regard. We made it a point that the President cannot hand down the revered institution a fait accompli, by merely sending the name of a candidate for such a purpose, but must ensure that such a candidate is fit and proper and worthy of the job, using acceptable templates, including instruments like the DSS report.

Obviously, their decision cannot satisfy everybody. There is nowhere in the world that the act of parliament satisfies everybody. In fact, that there are a lot of malcontents and heated debates in the polity as a result, can only serve to refine the process, create a robust and virile democratic ethos and stimulate an environment of give and take.

Again, we were very clear that the Senate did not err in asking Ali, appointed to a uniformed position to adhere to the fine principles of such an organisation or institution. The CGC donning the Customs uniform as a means of doing just that. We were on all fours with the argument that if the CGC enjoyed the perks of the office, it would not be too much for him to don its uniform as well and that the cavalier arrogance and shenanigans is not only beneath the high office he occupies, but totally outlandish as is unacceptable.

That unfortunately is the length we can go in supporting the Senate in the entire nasty episode. In our thinking, Ndume, does not deserve the treatment meted out to him. Yes, he may have ulterior motives in raising the issues as he did, but from our reading of his conduct whilst doing so, he seemed to manage himself very wisely and prudently.

Nobody can fault him for merely relying on a report he did not generate to ask for his privileges as a lawmaker. It is difficult to see how asking for an investigation on such a matter constituted dragging the image of the Senate to the mud as the Committee on Ethics and Privileges stated.

It was clearly a case of working to an answer for the Senator Samuel Anyanwu committee to base its decisions on inferences, because it is a known dictum that inferences, no matter how strong, cannot lead to conviction. It is therefore a case of killing a fly with a sledgehammer or giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it.

It is not too late to rescind this decision. We recommend that the Senate does so without further delay because the ground on which it stands is at best, shaky and at worst, ego-tripping, a phenomenon, which Nigeria can hardly afford at this time.




Posted on March, 29 2017

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