20180819

Saraki, Dogara Plan Joint Session To Avert Impeachment?

Senators loyal to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, have perfected a strategy to stop his impeachment and that of his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu.

Apart from keeping vigil at the National Assembly to prevent the All Progressives Congress senators from sitting, the Peoples Democratic Party members in the Senate have mapped out an arrangement to keep the red chamber save for Saraki until September 25 and beyond.

How Saraki, Dogara planned ‘coup’ to abort reconvening 

Findings by The Punch revealed that Saraki reached out to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, last Sunday night to suspend any form of reconvening last Tuesday, as earlier agreed by both presiding officers.

The sudden change of mind, according to some senators who spoke on condition of anonymity, was to save Saraki from impeachment because it was discovered that many of his loyalists had travelled to Saudi Arabia on pilgrimage.

A senator from the North-Central geopolitical zone said, “Our calculation was that the APC senators can never get two-thirds of the majority of the entire membership of the Senate to carry out any impeachment, but we had to be careful when they started arguing that the two-thirds could also be based on the numbers of senators at plenary.

“We were aware that many members of the House of Representatives got notice of resumption last Saturday, so both presiding officers met and agreed that the resumption should be postponed indefinitely.”

Strategies adopted to extend reconvening 
The Punch investigations further revealed that Saraki and Dogara agreed that only members of the Committee on Electoral Matters in both chambers should be recalled to hold joint meetings with officials of the Independent National Electoral Committee between Wednesday and Friday last week.

The committees of both chambers would thereafter hold a joint meeting with INEC officials to consider Buhari’s request.

The Joint plenary idea 
The latest strategy which is expected to keep the seats of Saraki and Ekweremadu safe till the end of September is the idea of a joint sitting.

The two presiding officers have agreed to reconvene a joint plenary for the presentation and consideration of the committees’ reports.

A senator from the South-West geopolitical zone, who also spoke on condition of anonymity said, “Since the reports of the presidential requests were jointly treated by committees of the two chambers, it would be proper for the passage to be done at a joint sitting.

“Besides, everybody would be at the joint session to discuss the INEC budget and the Eurobond request, so no motion for impeachment would be moved because it is not permitted in such arrangement.”

Further investigations by The Punch revealed that Saraki and Dogara agreed to reconvene a joint sitting of both chambers sometime after the Sallah celebrations and adjourn afterwards.

The calculation, according to sources, was that many of the senators on the APC side would have seen the handwriting clearly on the walls, that the automatic tickets being dangled before them was nothing but a mere deceit

A senator, who recently defected to the Peoples Democratic Party said, “By the time the Senate would eventually reconvene, it would be clear that many of the APC senators would have lost their tickets to either their state governors or another preferred candidate.”

He cited the case of Oyo, Ogun, Kaduna, and Ondo states, among others, where the governors are currently at loggerheads with some of their senators.

He said, “There is no way that the APC senators in Oyo, Ondo, Ogun, and Kaduna states would make their ways back to the Senate because their governors are eyeing some of their seats especially in Oyo and Ogun states.

“No APC senator would still take the Chairman of the APC (Adams Oshiomhole), seriously by September 25 if he is still promising return tickets if they could impeach Saraki.”

National Assembly may not resume until after primaries 
Meanwhile, strong indications have emerged that the leadership of both chambers may extend the resumption of plenary beyond the initial agreed date of September 25 to enable members to participate in their party primaries.

According to the timetable released by INEC, party primaries for the presidential, governorship, federal and state assembly elections would run between August 18 and October 7, 2018.

With this arrangement, a principal officer confided in one of our correspondents that since members would be busy in their states for the primaries, it would be proper to extend the resumption by at least two weeks.