20180607

Senate Panel Took Bribe To Stop Buhari’s Nominee?

There was a drama yesterday in the Senate over allegation of bribe-taking to reject a nominee for Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) position.

Trouble started during the consideration of the report of the Committee on INEC on the screening of nominees for confirmation.

Chairman of the committee Senator Suleiman Nazif (Bauchi North) presented its report for the consideration of the Senate.

Nazif said the committee recommended that the nominee from Zamfara State Ahmad Bello Mahmud should be rejected.

But, Senator Kabiru Marafa (Zamfara Central) openly accused the screening committee of being heavily compromised to return uncomplimentary comments on Mahmud.

Marafa insisted that he has it on good authority that the committee was compromised to turn down Mahmud’s nomination.

He challenged the chairman of the committee to provide the affidavit in support of the petition it claimed to have received against Mahmud.

Marafa said: “I have evidence that the committee was heavily compromised to write its report. The committee should tender the affidavit in support of the petition it claimed that was written against the nominee.”

The Zamfara Central senator said the state governor, Abdul Azeeze Yari, was behind the attempt to deny the nominee his confirmation.

He noted that contrary to the insinuation that Mahmud was not from Zamfara State, the nominee was born and bred in the state.

Senator James Manager (Delta South) threw his weight behind Marafa.

Manager said as far as he was concerned, the report was incomplete.

Before Manager could continue, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu raised a point of Order to the effect that it was un-parliamentary to input improper motive against any senator.

Ekweremadu quoted relevant sections of the standing rule of the Senate to buttress his point.

Senate President Bukola Saraki agreed and ruled Marafa out of order.

Saraki asked Marafa to withdraw the “offensive” comments as well as to apologise to Nazif.

Marafa reluctantly withdrew his comments but refused to apologise to Nazif.

Deputy Senate Leader Bala Ibn Na’Allah said Marafa should not only withdraw his comments that the committee was comprised but also apologise to the committee chairman in his “own interest”.

Na’ Allah reminded Marafa that everything done in the chamber was being recorded.

Marafa stood his ground and said that he was not prepared to apologise to anybody.

When Saraki called for vote, the nomination of Mahmud was unanimously adopted.

The Senate President put the nomination to question for the second time. The result was a resounding “aye”.

The Senate President had no option than to rule that the “ayes had it”.

There was jubilation in the chamber as some senators rushed to Marafa to congratulate him for his tenacity in ensuring that the nomination of Mahmud was confirmed.

The confirmation of the nomination of Mahmud as Resident Electoral Commissioner came after two rejections by the Senate.