The division in the ranks of the All Progressives Congress caucus within the Senate deepened on Tuesday. This followed the Senate’s resolution to query the lawmaker representing the Delta Central Senatorial District, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, over his allegation that the general elections timetable revised by the national Assembly was targeted at President Muhammadu Buhari.
Omo-Agege is one of the 10 aggrieved APC senators that walked out of the chamber last Wednesday when the Senate passed the amendment to the Electoral Act 2010.
The adoption of the report by the Senate and House of Representatives Conference Committee on the amendment to the Electoral Act had caused a sharp division within the ranks of the APC caucus.
The conference committee approved a new Section 25 in the Electoral Act which states that the polls will commence with the National Assembly election, to be followed by the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections, while the presidential poll will come last.
Trouble started when the senators adopted the report as presented by the Chairman of the conference committee, who is also the chairman of the Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission, Senator Suleiman Nazif.
The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, had blocked senators who rose to challenge the adoption, making 10 APC members to storm out of the chamber to brief journalists on their grievances with the amendment.
The senators are Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa-West), Abu Ibrahim (Katsina-North), Abdullahi Gumel (Jigawa-North), Ali Wakili (Bauchi-South), Binta Masi Garba (Adamawa-North), Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta-Central), Umar Kurfi (Katsina-Central), Andrew Uchendu (Rivers-East), Benjamin Uwajumogu (Imo-North), and Abdullahi Yahaya (Kebbi-North).
“You don’t make a law targeted at one person. The perception out there is that this Section 25 was included to target Mr. President,” Omo-Agege stated when the aggrieved senators addressed journalists.
At the plenary session on Tuesday, Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi-West), raised a point of order to accuse Omo-Agege of denigrating the Senate by alleging that the resolution on the amendment was targeted at Buhari.
He said, “I rise this morning, heavily disturbed that we passed a resolution in this House last week and the aftermath of the resolution has a very serious effect on me as a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is not only my partyman, he is a President we all laboured to install and voted for. My brother and colleague, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, addressed the media where he said the decision taken by this Senate was targeted at Mr. President.
“If decisions in this Senate are now being teleguided and targeted at individuals, then this is no longer democracy. That statement to me is weighty. I personally campaigned and followed the President (as an APC candidate) to 35 states. The only place that I didn’t follow him to was Yobe, where we did not even go to throughout the campaign.”
He added, “When I was following the President, campaigning and working for him to become the President of this country, Ovie Omo-Agege was labouring in the Labour Party.
“Today, to take the decision by the Senate and the integrity of the Senate put together (and say) that it was tailored to target a particular person, it is unheard of, it is in bad taste and I do not want to be part of that.
“I want to ask that this statement made by Ovie Omo-Agege, among other statements; that the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions needs to investigate this matter and find out if, truly, our decision was made and targeted at Mr. President, among other issues raised by him.”
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary, referred the matter to the committee. He asked the panel to present its report in two weeks.