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Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Planned suspension of anti-Saraki senator heightens tension at Senate

The planned suspension of the spokesperson for the Senate President Unity Forum, Senator Kabir Marafa, over an interview he granted and published in the last week edition of Sunday PUNCH heightened tension at the Senate on Tuesday.
Marafa had in the interview declared his support for former President Olusegun Obasanjo over the issues he raised in his recent letter to both chambers of the National Assembly, especially on the need to make their budgets transparent and accessible to Nigerians.
But on the resumption of plenary after a two-week break on Tuesday, the Senator representing Bauchi South Senatorial District, Issa Missau, drew the attention of his colleagues to the publication, which according to him, was offensive.
Coming under matters of personal privilege, Missau, alleged that Marafa, by his comments, had infringed on his rights as well as the rights of others and deserved to receive an instant punishment from the Senate to serve as deterrent to others.
He said, “Senator Kabiru Marafa granted an interview misleading the public telling lies against this institution (Senate). I think I have been called more than 500 times from my constituency in respect of this publication.
“,,,Mr. President (Senate President Olusola Saraki), I think the leadership has to do something about this, the Senate should do something about this. We cannot allow one person to continue to tell lies against the Senate, misleading the public.
“I think it is better we take a decision so that we correct things, not only Marafa, anybody here would not be allowed to be misleading the public. I think it is not okay Mr. President.”
Senator Matthew Urhoghide from Edo South, seconded the motion moved by Missau and called for sanctions against the Zamfara Central senator.
Urhoghide said, “I want to lend my voice to the submission that was made by Senator Misau in respect to the publication in Sunday PUNCH that was granted by Senator Kabiru Marafa.
“I want to say with vehemence and every element of responsibility that publication as contained in Sunday PUNCH, smeared the integrity of this House and has totally put our reputations and of course reputations of other distinguished senators here into disrepute.
Ruling on the motion,   Saraki referred the matter to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to investigate and report back next week Tuesday.
Marafa welcomed the development and declared his readiness to appear before the panel.
He said, “It is a welcome development. I am even happy that the Ethics Committee will investigate me. I am ready to make myself available because it will give me an opportunity to say more things which space did not permit me in the newspapers.”
However, the All Progressives Congress’ candidate for the Senate President seat in June last year, Senator Ahmad Lawan, cautioned the Senate against any action that could create tension.
Lawan said, “Without prejudice to what the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions will report on the issue, as a Senate, as an institution, we should be more sensitive to the way we discharge our functions and mandates as provided for in the Constitution.
“That is to ensure probity, transparency and accountability in the utilisation of public funds. That we make good laws for the orderliness and good governance of this country, that we support the executive arm of government, that is the Presidency in this regard to ensure that Nigeria move out of its current quagmire that we have found ourselves.”
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