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419 lawmakers: Nuhu Aliyu chickens out

Posted by From ISMAIL OMIPIDAN, Abuja on 2008/02/02 | Views: 347 |

419 lawmakers: Nuhu Aliyu chickens out


Senator Nuhu Aliyu Wednesday took his colleagues by surprise when he announced that against his earlier threat to disclose the names of fraudulent lawmakers, he was beating a retreat. He claimed to have suddenly discovered that the allegation he made on the floor of the Senate last week was a contradiction of the law, and as such he was not only withdrawing his statement but he regretted the entire action.

•Apologises to Senate


Senator Nuhu Aliyu Wednesday took his colleagues by surprise when he announced that against his earlier threat to disclose the names of fraudulent lawmakers, he was beating a retreat. He claimed to have suddenly discovered that the allegation he made on the floor of the Senate last week was a contradiction of the law, and as such he was not only withdrawing his statement but he regretted the entire action.

Aliyu had last week raised an alarm that the National Assembly was infested with fraudsters. But when asked to withdraw the statement, he stood his ground and even threatened to name one of the fraudsters on the spot. However, the matter was refereed to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions.

Interestingly, Aliyu made similar allegations in 2005, but unlike now, he was not asked for names.
However, rather than appear before the Senate probe panel to carry out his threat, Aliyu attempted what Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora described as “procuring an abortion when the baby is on,” by asking the Senate to drop the idea of going ahead with the probe.

Coming through Orders 14 and 53 of the Senate’s Standing: Rules which borders on privileges and personal explanation, Senator Aliyu said “I have come to realize that I am losing my friends in the Senate. The controversy over the debate must end. We must be our brothers’ keeper. I strongly withdraw that part of the statement that says there are 419 lawmakers in the National Assembly. Nobody is guilty until proven guilty by a competent court, as such my lawyers have advised me to withdraw it and I so submit.”

He had hardly taken his seat when the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu declared that the issue raised by Aliyu was more controversial than the Bakassi issue. To that end, he insisted that the committee should be allowed to do its work and that Aliyu should go there to make his submissions.
Lending his voice to the debate, Senate’s Deputy Leader, Olorunnimbe Mamora said “what my colleague is trying to do amounts to trying to procure an abortion when the baby is on. Parliamentary immunity does not preclude parliamentary decency. We have to be careful in whatever statement we make so that we don’t have ourselves to blame. I therefore align with what the deputy Senate president has said.”

From then on, senators took turns to lampoon Nuhu Aliyu for causing the Senate what one of them termed an “avoidable problem.” Among those who spoke along this line are Senators Patrick Osakwe, Mohammed Adamu Bello, and Mohammed Ida, who after rebuking Aliyu pleaded with the Senate to forgive him, saying to “err is human, to forgive is divine. But I would implore him to apologize to the entire National Assembly and Nigerians, and that the committee should take judicial notice of the apology.”

At this point, Senate President, David Mark asked Aliyu to say the connection between his withdrawal and the pubic apology being demanded by some senators.
And the former Deputy Inspector-General of Police stood up to say “the content of my submission was apologetic, to err is human and to forgive is divine. I made a statement here which contradicts the law. I regret it. But I want my colleagues to understand that it is not as if I have not investigated senators and House members before. However, I should not have made the statement, I regret it.”
Again, Mark said, “Senator Nuhu, I’m not clear in my mind, is it an apology?” And Senator Aliyu responded, “yes, it is an apology.”

But Senator Anthony Agbo asked: “Is he withdrawing the statement because he feels that 419 exists in the National Assembly, but he does not want to name them or that they do not exist at all. I want to know upon which of the grounds he is withdrawing his statement.”

Senator James Manager also reminded the Senate that since Senator Aliyu made similar allegation in 2005 and as an elder statesman that he is, he was repeating similar allegations now, then the apology must be properly routed, adding, “I know he spent about 35 years in the police, and as such he is still very much close to the police, therefore he should know the import of his allegations.”

Ruling on the matter, Mark who relied on the Senate Order 58 (6) which prevents the Senate from re-considering any matter that it had taken decision on, except a substantive motion was brought to the effect said, “we have taken his apology but it does not stop the matter being referred to the committee. My ruling is therefore that the matter stands referred to the committee.”
The panel is expected to turn in its report next Wednesday.

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