- Melaye Returns to Senate with Theatrics, Fuels Rumour of Defection
It was drama galore wednesday when the Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Dino Melaye, stirred the Senate on the very first day of his resumption with a special request at plenary that he should be allowed to sit among PDP Senators.
Melaye’s move immediately set tongues wagging and provoking whirlwind rumour that he was perhaps sending a signal as to his next direction, given that he is an ally of the Senate President; both of them are equally key players in the defunct nPDP that is currently keeping its options open in its discussions with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) with the likely option of decamping to the Action Democratic Party (ADP).
Melaye who came to the Senate Chambers at about 10.55 a.m limping with a walking stick and donning a neck brace had been away from plenary since last month to answer to criminal charges against him in his home state, spoke under Order 14 of the Senate Rules to request that he be allowed to henceforth sit at the section reserved for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Senators.
His words: “I don’t feel comfortable sitting where I am now and if you don’t mind Mr. Senate President I will want to request that I be allowed henceforth to sit beside ranking Senator David Mark. I will be more relaxed and comfortable there than where I am sitting now”.
Melaye’s request charged the atmosphere in the Senate Chambers with senators speaking for and against the proposal.
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu and Minority Leader Godswill Akpabio in supporting Melaye’s request cited Order 43 and Section 45 of the Constitution of Nigeria, saying he should be free to move and sit anywhere he likes within the Senate Chambers.
Akpabio for effect emphasised that Melaye and other Senators like him “are free to join us on this side anytime they wish to come as we are ready to provide best sitting positions for them as we are Senators of the Federal Republic and not along party lines.
Rising to oppose Melaye’s request, Senate Leader Ahmad Lawan and Chief Whip Olusola Adeyeye, quoting Constitutional Order 65 Section 2b warned that a bad precedence should not be set by institutionalising chaos if Melaye’s request is granted.
They advised Melaye to feel free to sit on any of the seats reserved for APC Senators “including those reserved for principal officers of the Senate”.
Summing up the contributions, Senate President Bukola Saraki, said there is the need to consider Melaye’s comfort and his state of mind with his return to the Senate.
He said based on this “we will accommodate Melaye’s request and will make his seat comfortable through the Chief Whip and Senate management”.
At this point, Melaye moved to the back of the PDP Senators’ wing at the Chambers and sat beside Senator Ben Murray-Bruce who warmly received him.
Name Corrupt N’Assembly Members
The Senate yesterday formally reacted to corruption allegations levelled against some members of the National Assembly by former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, saying he should be bold enough to reveal the identities of the said lawmakers.
Jega had at a public lecture held in Abuja on Monday to commemorate Democracy Day accused some National Assembly Committee Chairmen of demanding bribes from government agencies and parastatals before passing their budgets Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who spoke at plenary in reaction to Order 43 raised by Senator Isah Misau over Jega’s accusations wondered why Jega failed to mention names “if actually, he was sure of his facts.
Saraki who said he was present at the occasion where Jega made the allegations stated that such a statement was highly embarrassing.
According to him, the former INEC Chairman should bring the evidence to prove his bribery allegations.
“He should be specific and not make a blanket statement by mentioning names of those who told him that some National Assembly members give bribe and the affected law makers so that appropriate sanction can be taken.
“We are not trying to cover up for any lawmaker. If he has the proof he should just come up with it and wait for our action on it If not, the matter should be laid to rest”.
He stressed the commitment of Senate leadership towards the fight against corruption. Said he, “we are fully committed to the drive towards eradicating corruption in the system and will continue to do everything towards achieving this aim.
Senator Isah Misau had earlier while drawing the attention of the Senate to Jega’s allegation canvassed for a stern position to be taken by the Senate on the matter.
Expressing concern about the accusation, Misau wondered why Jega failed to disclose the identities of those involved ” if actually, he was sure of his facts”.
Invites OAU VC Over Sex for Marks Scandal
Also wednesday, the Senate resolved to invite the authorities of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife to appear before it to explain steps taken so far by the institution on the sex for marks allegation levelled against Prof. Richard Akindele by a post graduate student, Monica Osagie.
This followed a motion on the growing trend of sexual harassment in higher institutions of learning moved by Senator Biodun Olujimi which was adopted with a resolution to mandate the Senate Committees on Tertiary Institutions, Human Rights and Legal Matters to carry out full investigation of the case of Monica Osagie and the OAU lecturer ” in order to ensure that there is transparency and accountability and that satisfactory justice is done to the victim involved and our laws are further strengthened for effectiveness.
The Senate also urged House of Representatives to concur with the Senate on Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Educational Institutions (Prohibition) Bill ” which has been transmitted to the House as this will provide succour and a window of solace for victims of these kind of atrocities in our higher institutions of learning”.