12 April 2018

Nigeria: Saraki Disbands Buhari Support Group in Senate

Photo: Premium Times
Nigerian Senate

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Thursday ordered the immediate disbandment of a group, Parliamentary Support Group, in the senate

It is not clear if Mr Saraki, as senate president, has such constitutional powers to disband a freely formed group, especially as the constitution guarantees freedom of association. However, none of the members of the pro-Buhari group, raised objection when Mr. Saraki gave the directive.

The group was formed in March by pro-Buhari senators after a face-off with their colleagues on the amendment to the electoral act.

The group emerged in public through an obituary advertisement placed in some national dailies on March 20 and 21 over the death of one of their members, Ali Wakili.

Early April, members of the group including Abdullahi Adamu, Ovie Omo-Agege, Abu Ibrahim, Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf, Babajide Omoworare, Ali Ndume, openly identified with President Muhammadu Buhari in Daura as his parliamentary support group.

The Senate, adopting a motion moved by Ibrahim Gobir (Sokoto-APC), also mandated its committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, to probe both Mr Adamu and Mr Omo-Agege for their roles as chairman and secretary of the group respectively.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Omo-Agege was suspended by his colleagues for accusing them of working against Mr Buhari's reelection bid in 2019 through the amendment of the electoral act.

While debating on the report that led to the suspension of Mr Omo-Agege on Thursday, the existence of the group was once again mentioned by Kabir Marafa (Zamfara-APC).

"Mr President, in as much as I am against the suspension of any senator but I am equally against the formation of any other group in this chamber. The formation of the parliamentary support group is evil and it should not stand, it is counter-productive and against the president himself," Mr Marafa said.

Ruling over the issue, Mr Saraki ordered the group be disbanded.

"Distinguished Colleagues, a number of points have been raised. One borders on the issue of preserving the integrity of this institution. To me, that is what i think is the most important thing for us.

"Second, is where we take actions that are not sincere. I think in this chamber, if we want to talk about who has the right to say he is chairman of a Parliamentary Support Group for Mr President both by action and by what we have done, I think that I have the right to lead that more than anyone else here.

"Those of us that understand politics, understand that because of our own peculiar interest, sometimes some people decide to act like they are holier than thou or more committed -- at the expense of others. This is not something that we should tolerate, and I believe that in an institution like this we must show discipline, but at the same time we must also show compassion.

"Distinguished Colleagues, there must be discipline. We must show that such groups must be suspended and the case in court must be withdrawn. I think by that we would have captured, no more of these kind of groups in the Senate."

The disbandment of the group was also part of the recommendations adopted by the Senate.

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