Posted by By BASHIR UMAR, Abuja on
The Senate yesterday tactically withdrew its support for the embattled Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello. Briefing newsmen after a brief plenary session, the Senate Chairman on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ayogu Eze, discarded the Ogun senator’s case by saying: “The Senate can neither account for the long absence of Senator Iyabo nor can it stake its neck on a matter that is before the court of law.”
The Senate yesterday tactically withdrew its support for the embattled Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello.
Briefing newsmen after a brief plenary session, the Senate Chairman on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ayogu Eze, discarded the Ogun senator’s case by saying: “The Senate can neither account for the long absence of Senator Iyabo nor can it stake its neck on a matter that is before the court of law.”
According to him: “It is not the responsibility of the leadership or members of the Senate to fish around for a senator who does not come to Senate. What happens when a senator is absent for considerable number of times is that an interested party or member of the constituency of the senator concerned notifies the National Assembly leadership or the Senate that well, “ so, so, and so person has been absent from the Senate for so, so and so period and I think that constitutionally his or her membership of the National Assembly has lapsed.
“I need to state that attendance at sittings of the Senate is voluntary and subject to the rules and law of Nigeria, a senator is expected to do a minimum of 181 days in a year and by the law, it is also mandatory to do 2/3 of that 181 to qualify to continue in the chamber.”
He explained further: “If the records of her attendance are checked and she has not attained the constitutional period required for her membership to continue, there is no other procedure required except to write to INEC. After this procedure, he said, the Senate president would be expected to write and inform the electoral commission about the absence of such a lawmaker and, therefore, tell them to conduct election to fill the vacancy. That is what the law says.”
He was emphatic that “the Senate cannot interfere at this point in time until she finishes her case in court. It was only about a week ago the EFCC was able to get a court approval to put her name in the charge sheet. At this point, the matter gets out of any comment. We can’t even comment on it because it is sub judicial. But I can tell you, it is now beyond the Senate.” Now, that the matter has been charged to court, it is beyond the Senate.
Senator Eze noted that it was not the responsibility of the Senate at this point in time to account for Iyabo, saying, “we cannot account for her. It is beyond the Senate to contest what is before the court.”
He said yesterday’s Senate plenary had to be suspended because of a number of reasons including oversight assignments, public hearing and special committee meetings. There was also the ECOWAS parliament meeting in Abuja which required the attention of the deputy Senate president and the deputy speaker of the parliament.
He said the transport sector is under probe and that stakeholders would necessarily get prepared to get off the ground.
He said: “Many have asked me why is it that the National Assembly is currently embarked on a lot of probes, and my answer to them is that the philosophy was that those who are in position of authority should know that whatever happens they will be held accountable for their activities and if you know that you will be exposed or called to answer questions later, of course, you will be guided in whatever you do to follow the due process and to follow the rule of law. So, basically that is what the National Assembly is trying to do, no more no less.”
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