BY OBUTE JAMES
The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday was thrown into a rowdy session over the screening and confirmation of nominees of the Economic and Financial Crimes commission, EFCC.
Journalists and other people observing the proceeding of the Senate were asked to leave the chamber when the chamber became very rowdy over the exclusion of South East and South South Geopolitical Zones from membership of the EFCC.
Trouble started after Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP Enugu North) who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes presented his committee’s report on confirmation of the nominees for appointment as members of the EFCC in accordance with Section 2 (1)(0) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act 2004.
The members are Ndasule Moses, Lawan Mamman, Galadanci Najib and Adeleke Adebayo Rafiu.
Utazi who said that the nominees are qualified for the position and recommended that the Senate confirm them, however pointed out that while North East and South West had two members (North East has Chairman and a Member), (South West has Secretary and a Member), South East and South South did have representative in the anti-corruption agency.
While contributing on the report before the Senate went into the committee of the whole, Victor Umeh (APGA, Anambra), said that the report should be stood down for violating federal character principles. He requested that the list of the nominees should be returned to Buhari and ensure that all the geopolitical zone are represented in the EFCC.
He said while the acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu, is from the North East, the recently confirmed Secretary of the Commission, Olanipkekun Olukoyede, is from the South West.
Eyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia) also lamented that the government of the day has not been adhering to the principles of federal character. He said the committee set up by the senate to investigate the lopsidedness in the appointment of government officials in this current administration has gone underground.
The Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, urged the Senate to go ahead and consider the recommendations of the committee saying there is need for specific law to be made that will compare the government to adhere strictly to the federal character principles in future. His comments however, did not go down well as many of them are of the view that the Act establishing Federal Character Commission addresses the issue of lopsidedness in appointment.
The Senate was forced into rowdy session after Ali Ndume, (APC Borno South), blamed the committee chairman, Utazi for not addressing the error in the report before submitting it to the Senate. Attempt by Utazi to respond to comments by Ndume was not successful because of the rowdy nature of the Senate.
Effort of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu to speak was also not successful as some senators were saying one thing or the other at the same. It was at this point press men and those who came to observe the Senate session were asked to leave the chamber.
The Senate after 25 minutes closed door session stood down the reports and asked President Muhammadu Buhari to do the needful by accommodating all the geoo-political zones in the EFCC.